Shalom Luani, a senior starting defensive back for the Washington State football team, was arrested and charged with assault early Wednesday morning for allegedly breaking a man’s nose.
Pullman Radio first reported the news Wednesday, stating that Luani was at a Domino’s Pizza branch on College Hill in Pullman at about 1:40 a.m. when he got verbally abusive because he thought his pizza order was taking too long.
According to Pullman Police Commander Chris Tennant, “Mr. Luani was extremely frustrated about the long wait. He was verbally cussing and screaming about the pizza taking so long.”
Some of the other customers in the crowded Domino’s Pizza lobby suggested Luani ask for a refund and leave because he was “being obnoxious,” Tennant said.
According to Tennant, the Domino’s Pizza manager told Luani he would refund his money, but Luani continued to act in a disorderly manner.
At this point, the other customers once again told Luani he should leave, and a male 20-year-old WSU student even held the door open for Luani.
Using the palm of his hand, Tennant said Luani allegedly pushed the WSU student in the face as he went through the door, and the back of the student’s head hit the door.
Once outside, a fistfight broke out, and Luani allegedly punched the WSU student in the face. The student was taken by private vehicle to Pullman Regional Hospital for treatment, and the hospital confirmed to the police that he had a broken nose.
Meanwhile, the student identified Luani as the person who had hit him, and police arrested Luani outside the Domino’s and took him to the precinct for questioning. He was charged with second degree assault before being released on his own recognizance.
He admits to being there. He doesn’t necessarily admit to breaking a guy’s nose, but he admits to being extremely angry.
Pullman Police Commander Chris Tennant
According to Tennant, the maximum penalty for second-degree felony assault can be a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Tennant said Luani cooperated fully with Pullman Police officers.
“He admits to being there. He doesn’t necessarily admit to breaking a guy’s nose, but he admits to being extremely angry,” Tennant said. “He admitted to having alcohol last night, but he was not falling down drunk or anything.”
Ken Irwin, an assistant manager at the Domino’s Pizza branch where the incident occurred, declined to comment about the incident when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.
Tennant said the police department’s investigation into the incident is ongoing, and the police think there might have been an additional victim because when officers arrived at the scene, they saw another individual walking away, “holding his head like he’d been injured.”
If the police determine that there was a second victim, Tennant said Luani could face additional charges.
The WSU football team is aware of the incident. Tennant said one of the other WSU football players who was at the Domino’s on Wednesday called a football staff member when the fight broke out, and this staff member ultimately showed up at the scene. Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins also corresponded with the football program on Wednesday.
WSU Associate Director of Athletics Bill Stevens said Wednesday afternoon that WSU will continue to cooperate with law enforcement, but that, “outside of that, we will keep it a team matter at this time.”
This marks the second time in two months that WSU football players have been accused of assault. The first incident occurred at the end of July when a fight broke out between several football players and some WSU students at a house party. Some of the athletes allegedly broke one student’s nose and gave another student a concussion.
However, no charges have been filed in that case because it is still under investigation, Tennant said Wednesday. He said Luani is not one of the main players the police are investigating in relation to the July party assault, but added that he did not know at this time whether Luani was present at that party.
Luani transferred to WSU from City College of San Francisco in 2015 and started 13 games for the Cougars at free safety last season. He led the team with four interceptions and had 90 tackles and was named an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection.
He was slated to start at free safety again this season.