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 face repeatedly.

"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."

According 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 dropped.

"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.

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Baton Rouge Police Department
9000 Airline Highway
Baton Rouge, LA 70815

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