Officer to face merit board: Meeting comes after arrest for domestic battery

The Franklin Police Merit Commission will decide today what, if any, punishment a Franklin police officer should face after he was arrested on a felony charge earlier this summer.

Schyuler Z. Brown, 29, was arrested on a charge of domestic battery after his wife told police he had thrown a paper plate and fork at her during an argument in late June. The Johnson County prosecutor declined to file a criminal charge, citing insufficient evidence that Brown knowingly or intentionally threw the plate.

But the two-year police department veteran is facing an internal police department disciplinary charge of conduct unbecoming an officer, due to his arrest. The charge is being brought to the five-member appointed police merit commission, which oversees hiring, promoting, punishing or firing the nearly 50 members of the police department.

The charge was determined by Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan, because being arrested constitutes conduct unbecoming, O’Sullivan has said.

Any time a police officer is arrested, the matter should be brought before the merit board, city attorney Lynn Gray said. The merit board has discretion, including consideration of past discipline, in what, if any, sanctions to put in place.

O’Sullivan initially suspended Brown without pay for five days, which is the maximum he is allowed by departmental rules. Initially, the city planned to pay him while he remained on leave until the disciplinary matter was resolved.

However, Gray contacted Brown’s attorney, Dan Vandivier, to ask if Brown would agree to go on an unpaid leave until the merit board heard the case and reached a decision. Brown agreed, and the city and police department will not object to the merit board taking his one-month unpaid leave into consideration when determining what, if any, punishment he should receive if he is found guilty of the disciplinary charge, Gray said.

O’Sullivan has called Brown an outstanding officer who has been disciplined one time, by temporarily losing his take-home car privileges, after he was involved in a crash that was deemed preventable.

The incident between Brown and his wife happened in late June at their Franklin home. She called 911 and told a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputy that she and Brown had been arguing recently about their relationship, and that Brown threw a paper plate in anger, causing a scratch under her eye, the sheriff’s office report said.

She also has told investigators that Brown had tried to remove himself from the argument, and was adamant that her husband was not trying to hit her.

Brown is the second Franklin police officer to be arrested on a charge of domestic battery in the past year.

Bryan K. Burton, a 15-year veteran of the department, was fired earlier this year by the merit board after it found him guilty of two internal disciplinary charges: conduct unbecoming an officer and conduct injurious to the public peace and welfare. He had been arrested in October on a felony domestic battery charge. A special prosecutor decided Burton and his wife should not face criminal charges from the incident, but O’Sullivan sought Burton’s termination based, in part, on his disciplinary history.

At a glance

Franklin Police Merit Commission

Meeting to consider a disciplinary charge and possible punishment for police officer Schyuler Brown, who was arrested earlier this summer.

When: Today. A public meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a closed-door meeting of the commission members. The commission will reconvene in a public session at 7:15 p.m.

Where: Franklin City Hall, 70 E. Monroe St.

Author photo
Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.