A Franklin police officer who had been arrested on a charge of domestic battery is going back to work after he apologized, and his wife said calling 911 was a mistake.
Schyuler Z. Brown, 29, admitted to the internal disciplinary charge of conduct unbecoming an officer and was returned to the force effective immediately after already being on unpaid leave since his arrest June 26.
The city’s police merit commission voted unanimously to accept his admission and require that he continues meeting with a licensed therapist for 10 to 12 more sessions due to marital issues. The board enacted no further sanctions beyond his previously served unpaid leave.
Brown had been arrested earlier this summer on a felony domestic battery charge after a dispute with his wife at their Franklin home. She called 911 and said that Brown had thrown a paper plate with a fork at her, making a small cut below her eye.
Story continues below gallery
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Brown that day because of the wife’s injury, which she said caused pain. During follow-up investigation, she insisted that her husband did not mean to hurt her. The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file a criminal charge.
But the matter was brought before the appointed five-member Franklin Police Merit Commission, which oversees hiring, promoting, punishing or firing the nearly 50 members of the police department. Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan wants a merit board review any time an officer is arrested, he said.
More details about the incident at the Brown home and why police were called came to light in the hearing, when the merit board reviewed and listened to the written statements of both Schyuler Brown and his wife, Allie Brown.
Allie Brown said it was a mistake to call 911 and asked that it not be the end of her husband’s career.
She took blame for pushing the argument that day, and said her husband was trying to clean up from a meal, and she grabbed the plate in his hand to try to get his attention when he wouldn’t respond to her during the argument, her statement said.
She wrote in her statement that she had two reasons she did not tell the sheriff’s deputy that day about how she had pulled the plate her husband was holding — because the sheriff’s deputy didn’t ask her if she did, and because she was afraid of losing her 3-year-old son.
Her injury — the cut below her eye — was not 1.5 inches as the sheriff’s office report said, but was millimeters, and was nothing more than a paper cut. In fact, she did not know about the cut until a deputy asked her about it, her statement said. And the incident was not in the presence of her son, as police had been told, her statement said.
She attributed her decisions and actions that day to being in the heat of the moment and said she wasn’t thinking. Her husband never should have been arrested, the statement said. She described him as a humble, kind, giving husband and father.
She also asked the chief to allow her husband to keep his job and said he didn’t deserve to be arrested.
Schyuler Brown’s statement said that the couple had been fighting about a possible divorce, and his wife tried to pull a paper plate out of his hand. The plate flexed, and when she pulled again, the food and fork flew into the air, Schyuler Brown read to the merit board from his written statement.
He threw the plate over his shoulder, but not at his wife, he said.
“‘You hit me, I’m calling the police,'” Schyuler Brown said his wife told him.
Schyuler Brown told the merit board that he was admitting to the disciplinary charge of conduct unbecoming an officer, that he was sorry for having been involved in the situation, and he had never considered that he would find himself in such a position.
“I love Franklin,” Brown said. “I’ve made it my home.”
He loves his profession, and asked to go back to work as soon as possible — and promised to keep working hard.
Brown’s attorney, Dan Vandivier, pointed out that Schyuler Brown was pleasant and compliant during the investigation, he never used his badge to try to change the situation, he choose to make a statement to the sheriff’s deputy and to his own police chief, that no criminal charge was filed, that he is committed to continuing individual and joint therapy and that he is well-respected.
Vandivier told the merit board that Brown’s supervisor described him as hardworking and professional, and said he would like to clone him.
“This is exactly the type of gentleman I want out there working for us,” Vandivier said. “I think he deserves to have that chance.”
O’Sullivan did not ask the merit commission for a specific punishment for Brown but did ask them to consider a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer due to the arrest.
“Schyuler is an outstanding officer and an even better person,” O’Sullivan said.
Brown was initially suspended five days without pay, which is the maximum punishment the chief can impose. He was to remain on leave, but with pay, until the merit board hearing considered the case.
The city and Brown agreed that the leave be without pay instead, with the understanding that the merit board could be informed and consider his cooperation and time off without pay. The merit board enacted no further punishment and put in place the therapy requirement.
“We are particularly impressed with you taking responsibility,” merit board member Dr. John Shafer said.
O’Sullivan said Brown has been disciplined one time, by temporarily losing his take-home car privileges, after he was involved in a crash that was deemed preventable. He has saved three lives by administering Narcan, which is a drug that counteracts an overdose, and earned an education medal. Previously, he was a police officer in Nashville, Tennessee and earned the Officer of the Month award in 2013.
Merit board member Joey Hollis asked O’Sullivan to remind all police officers of the city’s employee assistance program, which can provide resources and help, such as counseling or therapy.
Brown is the second Franklin police officer to be arrested on a charge of domestic battery in the past nine months.
Bryan K. Burton, a 15-year veteran of the department, was fired this spring 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.