The Pullman Police Department has closed its investigation into the case involving WSU football safety Shalom Luani and has forwarded the case to the Whitman County Prosecutors office
The Pullman Police Department has concluded its investigation into the assault allegedly committed by Washington State senior safety Shalom Luani, who has been accused of punching another WSU student in the face in an altercation that occurred outside a Domino’s Pizza joint on August 24.
According to Pullman Police Sergeant Jake Opgenorth, the department has forwarded Luani’s case to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office on Monday afternoon, recommending that Luani be charged with second degree felony assault.
The Seattle Times is still awaiting receipt of the full case file from Pullman Police because it was not available to be released to the public until the case was declared closed.
According to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office, the case is still in the final stages of review, and in its transition from the police department to the prosecutor’s office. They do not anticipate that they will have any information to disclose about the case until it enters their system.
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Pullman Police Commander Chris Tennant told The Seattle Times last month that Luani was at the pizza place late one night when he got agitated about how long his pizza order was taking and got belligerent. Some people in the crowded restaurant asked Luani to leave. When he got outside the pizza place, Luani allegedly punched a WSU student in the face.
Since that report, however, Luani and WSU coach Mike Leach have both insinuated that there’s another side to the story presented by the police department.
Leach told reporter that there was reason to believe Luani was “jumped by three people” while Luani took to his Facebook page to apologize to friends and family for disappointing them but also said that there was another side to the story that has yet to be publicized.
“I’m still the same Shalom, and if you know me, you would know I would never fight over something like that,” Luani wrote on his Facebook page on August 24. “There are two sides to every story and I just wanted to say I’m sorry and I love you all.”
Luani was held out of practice for more than a week following his arrest. And though Leach never outwardly labeled the disciplinary measure a “suspension,” Luani, a 13-game starter for WSU in 2015, did not play in the Cougars’ season opener vs. Eastern Washington and was not sighted on the Cougars’ sideline.
However, in his weekly press conference last Tuesday, Leach announced that Luani would be allowed to return to practice and games with the team.
“Suffice to say, I’m comfortable with any punishment we’ve issued (to Luani) and don’t plan to issue any more,” Leach said last week.
Luani played in the Cougars’ defeat to Boise State last Saturday, and was WSU’s biggest impact player, making two key interceptions from his free safety position that kept the Cougars within striking distance of the Broncos till the very end.
Tennant said in August that the maximum penalty for a second degree felony assault charge can be a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Bill Stevens, WSU’s associate athletic director of communications, said Luani is expected to play this Saturday against Idaho and that the Cougars will have no further comment on the situation but will let the legal system play out.
In regard to the July case in which WSU football players were accused of assaulting some WSU students at a party off-campus, Opgenorth said the investigation is ongoing but said that police chief Gary Jenkins is hoping to be able to make a statement about that case later this week.