The Pullman Police have closed their investigation into an alleged assault involving WSU safety Shalom Luani and are recommending a 2nd degree felony charge to the Whitman County prosecutor’s office, according to the Seattle Times’ Stefanie Loh.
Luani is accused of breaking a man’s nose outside a Domino’s Pizza on College Hill on August 24. The maximum sentence, according to Loh, is a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
While PPD has stuck by the initial charge under which Luani was arrested that night, both Luani and WSU coach Mike Leach have suggested there is more to story and that while Luani was not blameless, he’s also far from the only person culpable in what happened. That said, Loh’s story doesn’t indicate that police intend to press charges against anyone else.
Pullman Police didn’t comment any more on the case, other than to confirm they had closed their investigation. The full investigation report has not yet been released. And it’s also important to note that the prosecutor’s office could decide to pursue a lesser charge, or none at all.
Now, with all due respect to the alleged victim — whose face probably still hurts — this is an athletics website, so let’s talk about that aspect.
In terms of what this means for Luani as a football player — and he had one heck of a game on Saturday that was instrumental in WSU having a chance to beat Boise State — it seems unlikely this particular development will have any impact on his current status.
Luani apparently was suspended for the Eastern Washington game (there was never any formal acknowledgment of his absence), and last week, Leach said, “Suffice to say, I’m comfortable with any punishment we’ve issued (to Luani) and don’t plan to issue any more.”
Given that, it’s likely that the only way Luani — a senior — misses any more time before the end of the season is if the university gets directly involved, and it would be a surprise if that happens before the justice system has run its course. And since we all know the justice system moves at a bit of a snail’s pace, it’s unlikely this is resolved in the next few months before the season ends, unless Luani decides to speed it up by pleading down to a lesser charge.
Perhaps it proves to be a distraction. We all know how football coaches feel about distractions. But if Saturday is any indication, Luani is plenty focused on finishing his final season strong and impressing NFL scouts.