SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington State football player Shalom Luani will not face charges in connection with a fight at a Pullman pizza parlor that left one man with a broken nose and Luani with a concussion, the Whitman County prosecutor said Monday.
Prosecutor Denis Tracy said the investigation showed that Luani probably threw the punch on Aug. 24 that broke the nose of one man. But Tracy said that Luani could have been found to be acting in self-defense.
“In 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,” Tracy wrote in a statement.
“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,” Tracy wrote.
Washington State football coach Mike Leach, who had complained earlier that Pullman police appeared to be targeting football players for arrest, declined Monday to comment on the decision. Police have denied they are looking to arrest football players in the small college town.
Luani is one of four Washington State football players who have been arrested in connection with assault charges in recent weeks. Tracy has not made charging decisions in the other three cases.
Luani, a safety, sat out the first game of the season, but has played in the past two games.
The Pullman Police Department had recommended that the 22-year-old Luani be charged with second degree assault for the fight.
Police said previously that Luani became verbally abusive when his pizza order took too long, then went outside and struck the victim in the face. Tracy said Luani was attacked by other people during the altercation.
In the other cases, the Pullman Police Department has recommended that charges of second-degree assault, a felony, be filed against defensive tackle Robert Barber and defensive lineman Toso Fehoko. The charges relate to the players’ actions during a large brawl that erupted on July 23 that left several people injured.
Police believe Barber knocked one person unconscious during the brawl, and that Fehoko broke another person’s jaw.
Police earlier arrested player Logan Tago on suspicion of assault and robbery.
Washington State students and staff dominate Pullman, a town of about 30,000 people. Students make up two-thirds of the population.
The Cougars (1-2) host Oregon in a sold-out game on Saturday.