BATON ROUGE, La. – A former Baton Rouge police officer who fatally shot a black man nearly two years ago, setting off widespread protests and clashes with police, now faces a misdemeanor charge for an unrelated incident in which he allegedly slapped a suspect.
The ex-officer, Blane Salamoni, received a court summons Friday for a simple battery charge, said one of his lawyers, Brant Mayer. The 2016 incident apparently was captured on body camera and occurred weeks before Salamoni shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, during a struggle outside a convenience store, according to Mayer.
Sgt. Don Coppola, a spokesman for the police department, confirmed Monday that a summons for a simple battery charge was issued to Salamoni. Coppola said he couldn't immediately release any additional details about the charge, first reported by The Advocate.
State and federal authorities ruled out criminal charges in Sterling's July 5, 2016, shooting death.
Last month, Police Chief Murphy Paul fired Salamoni and suspended a second white officer who also struggled with Sterling but didn't fire his weapon that night.
Salamoni and the other officer, Howie Lake II, both appealed their discipline earlier this month. Salamoni is asking a civil service board to reinstate him.
Mayer said he believes police officials are using the battery case to influence Salamoni's appeal. He said the police department apparently has known about the body camera video of the incident for nearly two years.
"Blane just wants to clear his name," Mayer said. "This is just one more thing Blane has to deal with before he puts this chapter behind him."
Salamoni spoke to his supervisor about the incident immediately after it happened, Mayer said.
"There were no issues at that point," he added.
A conviction for simple battery is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Paul fired Salamoni on March 30, less than a week after Louisiana's attorney general ruled out state criminal charges. The U.S. Justice Department announced last May that it wouldn't pursue federal criminal charges against either officer.
Salamoni shot Sterling six times after he and Lake wrestled Sterling to the ground. The officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling's pocket. As a convicted felon, Sterling could not legally carry a gun.
Paul said he fired Salamoni for violating department policies on use of force and "command of temper." He suspended Lake three days for violating only the latter policy.
Two cellphone videos of the incident quickly spread on social media after the shooting, fueling protests at which police arrested nearly 200 people.
Body camera footage captured an officer, said to be Salamoni, screaming profanities and insults at Sterling. Salamoni also pointed a gun at Sterling's head and threatened to shoot him before he and Lake wrestled him to the ground in the parking lot outside the Triple S Food Mart.