You’ve told Alton Sterling’s past records. Now stop ignoring the officers’ disturbing use of force, deep family ties

Over the past week, media outlets have made a gratuitous effort to discredit Alton Sterling amid the highly controversial investigation surrounding his untimely death, but have failed to lend the same critical eye into the pasts of the police officers who killed him. 

The riveting cell phone video, which captured his harrowing final moments, has shocked social media users across the world. But, despite the blatant disregard for Alton Sterling’s Constitutional rights and the evident police brutality he suffered at the hands of Baton Rouge police officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, news outlets have conducted investigations of their own to uncover the blemishes on Sterling’s record.

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Howie Lake II

Instead of focusing on his death, news outlets have only highlighted his indiscretions, which have nothing to do with the circumstances that led to his gut-wrenching death. But, there’s another interesting side to this story and you probably won’t hear about it from mainstream media outlets. 

Apparently, the officers who fired six fatal shots into Alton Sterling’s chest and back, have quite a history with the Baton Rouge Police Department. In fact, Salamoni’s history far surpasses his four years with the department, which raises speculation about whether or not the investigation will be conducted from an unbiased perspective.

It has been revealed that the name Salamoni carries an esteemed level of respect throughout the law enforcement agency. Blane’s father, Capt. Noel Salamoni, is one of six commanders under Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. and a former leader of the police union.

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Blane Salamoni

While most would automatically assume Capt. Salamoni’s active status to be a conflict of interest, there’s actually more. His mother, Melissa Salamoni also served as a Baton Rouge police for 32 years before retiring in June of 2015. 

Over the years, she’s received numerous accolades, including 20 letters of recommendation throughout her career. Last year, Blane’s wife, Allison Salamoni was also honored by Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden and named EMT of the Year. It has even been mentioned that one of his grandparents were also police officers for BRPD. The Salamoni family has a longstanding friendship with Holden and District Attorney Hillar Moore who recused himself from the shooting investigation due to this conflict of interest. (Remember at a press conference early last week, Moore said the officers were warranted in shooting Sterling. “The officers feel they were completely justified,” he said. before it was announced that Lake and Salamoni would be on paid, administrative leave.)

Ironically, local news outlets have failed to highlight Salamoni’s family history with the law enforcement agency and they’ve glanced over his record while on the force. So, let me share a few facts.

Over the past four years, numerous complaints have been filed against the 28-year-old officer. The vast majority of the complaints against centered around use of force. 

A report published by The Advocate offered a synopsis of a 660-page report detailing five years of complaints filed against both Salmon and Lake. The most recent incident occurred on June 16, 2015. Salamoni was accused of “improperly carrying out orders and use of force.” Then, on August 5, 2015, less than two months after the previous incident, Salamoni was reported again for use of force. According to the report, he’d been involved in a physical encounter with a suspect who Salamoni said attempted to take his taser. He reportedly struck the suspect in the head several times leaving him with a closed head injury. The other two complaints, which were filed earlier in his career, involved “damaging department equipment and carrying out orders (vehicle pursuit).” Lake, who has been on the force for three years, also received two complaints for use of force and this is not the first time Lake has been placed on administrative leave. He was one of six officers who shot 28-year-old Kevin Knight in 2014. The following year, however, Lake won a “life saving” award according to the department’s Facebook page.

If Lake’s and Salamoni’s past indiscretions are any indicator of their interactions with alleged suspects, use of force may be a plausible argument that could explain what may have led to Alton Sterling’s death. Salamoni’s complaint history and deep-rooted connection to the police department should seem quite alarming to anyone hoping for a fair case. 

While local officials were successful with their demands for the investigation to be conducted by an external agency, the series of events that took place immediately after Alton Sterling’s death still raise questions about whether all evidence will be included in the investigation. According to Abdullah Muflahi, owner of the Triple S Food Mart where Alton was killed, Salamoni and Lake confiscated the convenience store surveillance footage without his consent or a search warrant. Numerous reports have also revealed that Muflahi was detained in the back of a police car for hours while the officers searched his store. 

Were they making sure they covered their tracks so no possible incriminating evidence could be found and used against them? Its been longer than a week since Alton Sterling was killed, and the surveillance footage still has yet to be released as Salamoni and Lake remain on administrative leave with pay. 

With each passing day, the tension has grown as protesters are demanding answers. But, unfortunately, it seems even Gov. John Bel Edwards has spoken out in favor of the Baton Rouge Police Department. The officers are supposed to be employed to serve and protect the public, but it seems the laws are only structured to protect officers like Blane Salamoni and those adamant about justifying the use of militarized tactics at peaceful protests. At this point, no one really knows what the future will bring, but Blane Salamoni’s and Howie Lake II’s disturbing police history should be taken into consideration. 

By Meaghan Ellis
Jozef Syndicate columnist

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Meaghan Ellis is a Louisiana reporter and writer with more than 3,000 online articles. This column is distributed by the Jozef Syndicate. Contact her at www.meaghan-ellis.com

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Comments
20 Responses to “You’ve told Alton Sterling’s past records. Now stop ignoring the officers’ disturbing use of force, deep family ties”
  1. D. Diggs says:

    Since all lives matter, why is it I didn’t see ANYONE MARCHING IN the United States for the 80 people killed in France a few days ago!
    Does their lives not matter as well?

  2. Kisha says:

    Watch the video here and watch the officer grab his right arm and pull it toward his pocket as if he was reaching for something. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCo_IvK7f6o&feature=youtu.be

  3. Dominic says:

    I think you raise some interesting points but do you due diligence and make sure people’s names are spelled correctly. Those mispelling cast a unnecessary shadow over the facts the present.

  4. Demetrice says:

    They murder that man for no reason…Thank u for the aritcal the people need to what these men been doing….but still on the police department!!!!!

  5. Dustin says:

    Disturbing use of force ??? Alton Sterling decided someone was going to get shot and reached for a gun protruding from his pocket . He was the instigator . The Officers were doing their jobs . He was committing criminal acts and had been reported by 911 callers . He would be alive today if he hadn’t decided he was ” gonna shoot some cops ” .

    • Charisse says:

      Wrong sir. The store owner told officers multiple times that Alton wasn’t the suspect. There is also the second video that clearly shows the officer that first shot Alton had his knee on Alton’s left arm, and the other officer was holding Alton’s right arm. Never once did Alton grab his gun. Not sure if you watched the video, but you hear one of the officers yell “he has a gun”. Not, “he’s going for his gun”. You are correct in stating that the officers were doing their jobs. They just approached the wrong guy. Alton was in front of the convience store with permission from the owner.

      • Julie says:

        Absolutely Charisse, but when people have their minds made up to believe that the victim was at fault, looking at the video won’t change anything, because they see what they want. This isn’t the first report of those cops charged with unnecessary force and being suspended in 2014, but media doesn’t want that exposed.

    • Killer says:

      They planted the gun on him that’s why they took the store tapes to keep the public from knowing the truth. Now people are tired of the shit they have to go through just to show the officers guilt. I am on the side of the truth , what these officers did was wrong . Stolen store tapes is proof of that . Get over it man and let chips lay where they may. They know they have no rights to the tape

  6. Daphine says:

    The fact remains that they murdered that man! I don’t care what kind of respect he’s has anywhere! They’re murders! Believe this Jehovah will execute judgement because he knows the heart and that is going to happen sooner than we think. They will not escape his wrath All those causing injury to man and destroying this earth he will set all matters straight. All that think they are getting away with the Evil they commit better think again Jehovah has sent his son Jesus Christ to clean house! Believe that!!

  7. martha says:

    GOD SIT HIGH AND LOOK LOW JUSTIC WILL BE DONE

  8. Joshua Gore says:

    I get the argument, I condemn the actions of the officers involved, but you have no sources listed and this makes it seem like you’re being dishonest.

    If so, I urge you not to be. It defeats everyone’s argument and only serves our opposition.

  9. Robert W. Applegate Sr. says:

    WOW, What a poorly written, biased, one sided “report”. Accusations of Wrong doing without the findings to that fact are just that. accusations. never mind that the article in the Advocate ALSO listed the results of investigations. DON’T mention that !! Now I understand why your an “Independent Reporter”, No Reputable news agency would allow this!

    • Cav Scout says:

      ‘No Reputable news agency would allow this!’

      Name ‘one’ reputable news agency that has been on point and UNBIASED towards the news stories that they put out to the public.

      I can hold on and wait….

  10. peggy Rose says:

    I just read the article on the cop killing of Mr Sterling. Thanks for the reporting done. in this article, awesome. I have returned to Louisiana after 30 years and found that we are still facing some of the same problems we faced back then.The 1% of the police dept still acting up,but blatant murder is a new added twist with the dpt cover-up. The family of the murderer very proud of him and his record because he is following a family’s history of abusing minorities, but listen, it is a new day and this is not the same people (30 years ago) We have technology in place even though they are habitually dropping cameras conveniently LOL., there are laws that must e addressed.

  11. Keneshie Morrison says:

    Great investigative reporting Ms. Ellis. You have certainly enlightened me.

  12. WWeatherspoon says:

    Irregardless what happens here on Earth you both have to answer for what you did remember that, everyone even a dog should have a fighting chance, not to be gunned down in such a manner because of pass history. Are we still hanging Black’s from trees or just putting them in the ground. I give respect when it’s given but in this can God himself is going to deal with you both. And no I’ve never been in any kind of trouble lawful or unlawfully.

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