Baton Rouge Police Chief Apologizes for the Hiring of Alton Sterling’s Killer. Sterling Still Dead

A mural in memory of Alton Sterling is displayed on the wall outside of Triple S Food Mart on March 27, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced today that the two officers involved in the July 2016 death of Alton Sterling would not face criminal charges.
Photo: Josh Brasted (Getty Images)

In what could only be described as a grievous insult on top of deadly injury, the Baton Rouge police chief apologized for the hiring of the officer who killed Alton Sterling more than three years ago.

Police Chief Murphy Paul apologized on Thursday, saying in part, “We are sorry Baton Rouge. I want to apologize to the family of Alton Sterling and also to his kids,” Chief Paul said, according to WABF.


“We’re sorry because he should have never been hired,” Paul continued. “And while we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future, and I sincerely apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in building barriers in communities of color in Baton Rouge.”

Sterling lost his life on July 5, 2016, when police confronted him in a parking lot for selling DVDs outside a convenience store.


Paul joined the department in January 2018. The two officers involved in Sterling’s death—Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II—were cleared of any criminal charges by the state in March 2018, but Salamoni, who fired the fatal shot that killed Sterling, was fired days later.

Salamoni appealed his termination, however; CNN reports that the department reached a resolution with him that precludes him from returning to the department.


Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said Salamoni will not receive monetary compensation in the resolution. She released the following statement, per WAFB, which read in part:

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announced today he has reached a resolution with the attorneys for former officer Blane Salamoni concerning his departure from the department. This has been a long time coming and it highlights my efforts to reform the Baton Rouge Police Department.

First, let me say I stand behind our officers, men and women who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect our citizens. However, our department no longer has room for individuals who can’t live up to its high standards or have shown a pattern of unprofessional behavior.

Public servants are and should be held to a higher standard, no one is exempt. Since taking office I have directed the department to implement national best practices and standards for 21st Century Policing.


Lee Hamilton, an attorney for the Baton Rouge PD says that (surprise!) Salamoni had a history of using excessive force, saying, “What became apparent from all the evidence presented to the chief was that Mr. Salamoni had a propensity for acting outside of the standards established by the BRPD for command of temper and use of force,” reports CNN.


CNN notes:

Hamilton said Salamoni regularly shouted profanities and abused individuals with unnecessary uses of force, as he did in the Sterling incident. Salamoni’s ill temperament caused “blow ups” with other officers, including one with a ranking officer, Hamilton said. Another officer told their superior that if something weren’t done about Salamoni, he could kill somebody, according to Hamilton.

Hamilton also said that Salamoni had previously been arrested for his involvement in a physical altercation or domestic abuse incident prior to joining the police, which would have kept him from being accepted to the force.


Salamoni’s attorney, John McLindon, said Salamoni has the option to be a police officer elsewhere if he chooses.

Clarification: 8/7/19, 4:16 p.m. ET: Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul wasn’t responsible for hiring Blane Salamoni; Paul’s apology was issued as a response to the ongoing appeal by Salamoni, who was fired by Paul in 2018. The story has been updated.

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter