New Orleans, LA — A New Orleans Police Officer who was fired from the department for beating a 16-year-old girl with shackles, was given 40 days of back pay after his lawyers argued that he was owed money from the paid vacation he received in punishment for his act of violence.
Terrance Saulny was caught on surveillance video striking the young woman multiple times, and even the review board investigating the case admitted that it was an extreme use of force.
"Based upon a review of the record before us, the commission agrees that (Saulny's) use of force was a major disciplinary infraction and represented a dramatic violation of the use of force guidelines established by NOPD," the initial ruling stated.
However, Saulny is apparently still entitled to the salary he would have received while he was suspended during the investigation.
The officer should, by all means, be facing assault and battery charges at the very least, but no charges were filed against him in the case.
The incident occurred on Sept. 23, 2014, when a 16-year-old girl was arrested for robbery and resisting arrest. She was booked at the Youth Study Center, where she was processed by Saulny. While Saulny was putting the teen in her cell, he said she began to resist and demanded to be let out. Saulny then grabbed a set of metal shackles and began striking the girl until other officers rushed into the cell to help restrain the teen.
“He went to hitting me where his handcuffs is in my chest. I was crying because he had slammed me on the ground and he had hit me on my lip and my face and stuff on the bench,” the girl later told investigators.
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Shortly after the attack, Saulny received an unpaid 38-day suspension while the case was being reviewed, and was subsequently terminated when it was ruled that he did use excessive force in the attack. Investigators also noted that Saulny lied about the circumstances that led up to the attack.
Saulny said that the teen was hurling profanity-laden insults at the officers, and causing a commotion in the prison. However, surveillance recordings contradicted these claims and showed the girl being mostly quiet and passively resistant. Still, even if the girl did say unkind things to the officer, she still has freedom of speech even while in chains, and insults or profanity are not things that should justify violent restraint.
In a ruling this week, it was decided that Saulny's right to due process was violated by the department and that his suspension should have been paid, not unpaid. According to a section of the state's constitution known as the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, the state is obligated to pay the salaries of officers who have been accused of misconduct.
“There is no dispute that NOPD issued such discipline without providing (Saulny) with the opportunity to retain counsel, attend a pre-disciplinary hearing or introduce evidence and … testimony on his behalf,” the ruling said.
Tyler Gamble, a Police Department spokesman, said that investigators “determined there was not enough probable cause that a crime was committed,” ignoring video evidence of the crime taking place.
Imagine if Saulny worked for another private company and he was seen on video smashing in the face and body of a child with metal shackles. Would he be entitled to any trial before he was fired, or somehow sue to get paid for being suspended? The short answer is no. Also, he would have been immediately arrested, tried, and convicted of assault and battery and child abuse.
However, Saulny is part of the thin blue line and therefore he can beat up little girls and get paid for it.