After a very public back and forth between the police and university, Washington State has some (somewhat) positive off-field news on which to celebrate.
Monday, Whitman County (WA) prosecutor Denis Tracy announced that he will not file charges against Cougars safety Shalom Luani in connection to a fight outside of a Pullman Domino’s Pizza shop. Video evidence indicated that it was Luani who broke a man’s nose with a punch; however, the prosecutor stated that a jury would likely conclude that Luani, who claimed he was ambushed by six males who pushed him from inside the pizza shop outside and sustained a concussion in the scuffle, had acted in self-defense.
From Tracy’s letter to the alleged victim:
[I]n order to prove that a criminal assault happened, the prosecutor must not only prove that the suspect hit someone, but the prosecutor must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect was not acting in self defense.”
“In this case, it is my view that no reasonable jury could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Luani was not acting in self defense. …
“Since I cannot prove that Mr. Luani was not acting in self-defense. I cannot prove that he committed a criminal assault.
WSU athletic director Bill Moos, who along with the university’s president met with the chief of the Pullman Police Department earlier this month, issued a statement expressing his happiness over the prosecutor’s decision.
We are pleased that the prosecuting attorney’s office came to the same conclusion as we did regarding this case. While not always afforded the opportunity, I believe this illustrates the stance we have taken from the beginning which is to handle such matters internally, not speak in great detail, until the legal process has played out. Though we choose to reserve comment on such instances, we continue to cooperate with law enforcement, and assume innocent until proven guilty. We will not engage in public debate, rather, will let the legal process run its course, and as best we can gain an understanding of all the facts, without publicly acknowledging guilt or innocence prematurely. We will continue to educate our student-athletes on representing our fine university is a positive manner and also emphasize they remove themselves from situations that have the potential to impact them and the university negatively.
Luani started all 13 games for the Cougars last season after transferring from the junior college ranks, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. This season, he leads the team with two interceptions.