Franklin officer, wife arrested

A Franklin police officer has been suspended without pay after he was arrested following a dispute at his home.

Next, the police merit commission will review the case to determine what, if any, punishment Officer Bryan K. Burton should face as it relates to his job.

The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office is also requesting a special prosecutor review what, if any, criminal charge should be filed against Burton. That decision was made because the construction company that Burton owns is doing work at the home of Prosecutor Brad Cooper, a deputy prosecutor said.

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Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said he planned to recommend the merit commission consider a disciplinary violation for conduct unbecoming an officer, but declined to comment further about the investigation or potential disciplinary charges.

“Incidents of this nature simply cannot be tolerated in our community,” according to a news release from Franklin police. The release said the police department was disappointed to learn of the arrest.

Just before 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Franklin police and sheriff’s deputies were called to a home in Simon Farms, where Jordan Burton reported that her husband, Bryan Burton, a 14-year-veteran of the police department, had grabbed her by the arm.

She told police an argument started when she tried to leave the home with their baby because she did not want another juvenile in the home watching the baby, according to the sheriff’s office report. While she was walking to the vehicle, she told police Bryan Burton grabbed her arm in an attempt to stop her from leaving. She told police he then disconnected the battery from the vehicle, the report said.

Bryan Burton, 41, was arrested on a charge of domestic battery. He did not respond to a message on Monday.

Jordan Burton, 31, was also arrested on a charge of domestic battery. Bryan Burton’s juvenile son told police Jordan Burton punched him in the head.

On Monday, police officials decided to suspend Burton without pay from his duties as a patrolman, including patrolling streets and making arrests, until the police merit commission has a hearing, the release said. Burton was first hired by the police department Jan. 1, 2002, and earns a salary of $49,518, according to the city.

O’Sullivan said he did not know when the commission would meet to discuss the case, and said that decision will be up to the board, who is appointed by the mayor, city council and police officers. The board’s next scheduled meeting is Nov. 1, he said.

Burton was previously suspended for 45 days in 2010 after an internal investigation turned up multiple department violations, including drinking on the job, giving alcohol to people younger than 21, improperly reporting time worked and not reporting a vehicle accident.

Burton was also charged with battery and official misconduct after a state police investigation. A woman had claimed he touched her genital piercing while equipping her with a recording device for an undercover drug buy. The charges were dropped after the woman no longer wanted to participate in the case.

On Sunday, initially Franklin police were called to Burton’s home, but referred the case to the sheriff’s office to avoid the appearance of a conflict or impropriety, the police department news release said.

The report has been sent to the prosecutor’s office and is under review, deputy prosecutor Alex Hamner said.

Deciding whether to request a special prosecutor is made on a case-by-case basis, and the law does give some guidance on when that request should be made, such as to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Hamner said.

The prosecutor’s office has handled criminal cases against local police officers who were arrested in the past, Hamner said. But in this case, since Burton’s construction company is handling work at Cooper’s home, the office is requesting a special prosecutor, Hamner said.

That request will go to a local judge, who will decide if a special prosecutor is merited, and then will decide who the special prosecutor should be, Hamner said.

The charge Burton was arrested on is a felony, since it happened in the presence of a child, O’Sullivan said.

Burton’s wife told police she returned home on Sunday, and decided to leave again with the 7-month-old baby because of a previous incident with another juvenile inside the home, according to the police report. Inside the garage, Bryan Burton grabbed her arm and told her she was not going to leave, she told police. She showed the officer a red mark and scratches on the inside of her arm, which she said were from when Bryan Burton grabbed her, the report said.

Her juvenile son, who called 911 after his mother told him to, told police he saw Bryan Burton grab his mother, the report said.

Bryan Burton’s juvenile son told police the son and Jordan Burton have argued because she didn’t want the son around the 7-month-old. She took the baby and went out to the vehicle, and he and Bryan Burton followed her to try to stop her from leaving. The boy told police he took Jordan Burton’s keys because he was concerned the baby was not in a car seat, and that was when she punched the son in the side of his head, the report said. The boy showed police a red mark on the side of his head, the report said.

Jordan Burton denied hitting the boy, the report said. Both Bryan and Jordan Burton were taken to the Johnson County jail and released on $1,200 bond.

The statement Bryan Burton gave sheriff’s deputies was not released due to an ongoing request from the prosecutor’s office about what information should be released in a criminal investigation, Sheriff Doug Cox said.

Due to ethical rules, the prosecutor’s office has asked local police to not release any information in a case that could prejudice a jury in a future trial, including statements made by suspects to police, Hamner said.

Sunday was at least the second time in the last two months that police were called to Bryan Burton’s home due to a domestic dispute. On Aug. 30, officers were called to the home about an argument between Bryan Burton and another relative, which started after Bryan and Jordan Burton had argued about how to discipline one of the children, according to the police report.

Franklin police were also called to the home again just before 9 p.m. Sunday when family members arrived to collect items, according to the police report.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.