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Atlantic City officer freed on domestic assault charge

An Atlantic City police officer accused of beating his girlfriend is free pending trial after a judge refused to hold him without bail.
Dayton Brown, 43, is charged with aggravated assault in the incident that caused the unnamed woman’s lung to collapse, according to the accusation.
But the attack never happened, defense attorney John Zarych told the judge, painting a picture of a troubled woman known to be untruthful who had a pre-existing respiratory condition.
Under the new bail reform, all domestic charges call for mandatory jailing of the defendant pending a first appearance within 48 hours that uses a point scale to measure danger factors and the likelihood that a defendant will appear in court.
Brown, an 11-year veteran of the Atlantic City Police Department, had low scores in his assessment since he has no prior criminal record. But, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office requested a detention hearing in an attempt to keep him in jail.
Jail is not presumed in this case, Blee said as the hearing began Tuesday, explaining how the fairly new detention hearings work.
Zarych presented one witness, who has known the alleged victim for 13 years.
“She calls me mom,” Antoinette Banks testified.
“Do you think she’s a victim?” Zarych asked.
“No,” Banks quickly replied.
“I love her to death,” Banks said of the woman identified as AA, but said she “has a problem with the truth.”
The woman has bipolar disorder but didn’t want to take her medication, she told Banks.
“There’s sufficient evidence produced by the defendant that the state is going to have significant difficulties in proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Superior Court Judge Michael Blee said at a detention hearing earlier this week.
Police officers were called to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center on Feb. 14, where they met AA.
She told the officer that on Feb. 11, Brown kicked and punched her on the left side of her body, and also slapped her in the face, causing her glasses to break and her face scratched, Assistant Prosecutor Harlee Stein told the judge. AA said she went to the hospital at that time and was sent home.
On Feb. 13, she said Brown kicked her in the legs after pushing her down in the bedroom, Stein said.
The officer saw a tube coming from the woman’s body, and she indicated that her lung had collapsed, Stein said.
Brown was released without bail. The judge denied the state’s request that he be put on an ankle monitor.
He was to stay with his mother in Atlantic City, since AA is living in his Galloway Township home with five of her children under a temporary restraining order. The Family Court hearing on that has been postponed, Zarych said.
Brown did go to the home with police to get some of his belongings and also in an attempt to get his vehicle.
AA gave police the keys, but the car would not start, Zarych said.
Brown told his attorney that AA tried to talk to him while he was there, but that he spoke only to the police, Zarych said.
In addition to the restraining order, Blee issued a no-contact order that means Brown cannot try to contact AA in any way, including through a third party.
No new hearings are scheduled at this time.
“Know what he’s worried about?” Zarych asked during an interview Thursday. “He’s concerned that this is going to harm legitimate domestic violence victims.”
He lauded his client both in court and outside, talking of his work with Atlantic City’s youth that followed his service in Iraq, where he worked with youth there to keep them from becoming terrorists, Zarych said.

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