BATON ROUGE — A Baton Rouge Police Department officer under
investigation for the fatal shooting death of Alton Sterling in July
has been named in a new federal civil-rights lawsuit in the beating
of a teenager during last April's Baton Rouge Earth Day celebration.
The lawsuit claims
that BRPD Officer Blane Salamoni and other officers officers
repeatedly hit 16-year-old Ja’Colby Davis while arresting him
during the annual event. Part of the April 17, 2016 arrest was
recorded and shared on the Internet. The video shows Davis pinned to
the ground with his hands behind his back while a police officer
punches him in the head.
Salamoni is not the officer seen hitting Davis in the video, but
the lawsuit states that Salamoni admitted to hitting Davis in the
"The video of the arrest is troubling,”
William Quigley, law professor and director of the Law Clinic and the
Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans, told
The Louisiana Record. “A jury seeing the video is
going to have a lot of questions about why such force was necessary.
The fact that Officer Salamoni was also involved in the shooting of
Alton Sterling makes this case much more sensational."
to the lawsuit,
Salamoni told Davis to “step back from the area” and was the
officer who grabbed his arm and drove him “violently into the
ground.” Police identified Todd Bourgoyne as the officer seen in
the video striking Davis. The suit claims Bourgoyne struck Davis in
the neck and face repeatedly.
After his arrest
“without cause” and the alleged “brutal beating,” Davis was
treated at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital before being transported to
the Juvenile Detention Center. All charges against Davis were later
"Building honest and respectful relationships
between police and the communities it serves take years,” Quigley
said. “Before you can have reconciliation, you have to have
truth-telling, and that is very tough for groups that have been
adversaries. It can be done, but it takes commitment and resources
and has to be an ongoing priority."
Davis and his father,
Wayne Davis, represented by attorney Shannon Battiste, are seeking
$2 million in compensatory and punitive damages. They have requested
a jury trial.
Salamoni is one of the officers currently on paid
leave while under investigation for the alleged shooting death of
Sterling on July 5, 2016. Salamoni and Officer Howie Lake II were
arresting Sterling in the parking lot of Triple S Food Mart when at
least one of the officers fatally shot him.
"Sadly, I think
most people do not have much hope that the federal authorities will
find the [Sterling] killing a civil rights violation,” Quigley
said. “The laws in Louisiana and the rest of the U.S. are highly
protective of law enforcement when they use lethal force. Those laws
will have to change before communities feel really protected in these
types of situations."
The results of the investigation into
the Sterling shooting are expected
to be announced this month.