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Battery charge costs cop job

April 15, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A police civil service commission has upheld Berkeley County Sheriff Ronald Jones' decision to fire a deputy over a family violence protective order that was filed against the officer.

Because Deputy Richard Burrell continues to have a criminal domestic battery charge pending against him and because of the nature of the allegations in the criminal charges, Burrell's ability to represent the department "in a reputable manner has been compromised," the Berkeley County Deputy Sheriff's Civil Service Commission ruled Friday.

The civil service commission also quoted a section of state law that said "domestic violence is a major health and law enforcement problem in this state with an enormous cost to the state in both dollars and human lives."

Burrell's girlfriend, Jeanette Renee Holben, accused Burrell of knocking her head against a wall, throwing her to the ground twice and pounding her head on a floor during a Feb. 27 altercation.

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Holben was also charged with domestic battery. Burrell alleged that she struck him first, with a curling iron, and slapped him across the face. He said in a complaint that he pushed Holben to the ground to defend himself.

Burrell and Holben received final protective orders against each other on March 7.

Jones said a 180-day family violence final protective order against Burrell prevented him from using or possessing a firearm, which is needed to do his job.

Burrell's attorney, David Joel, disagreed, saying Jones misunderstood the terms of the order. Since Magistrate Ruth Donaldson did not impose a provision prohibiting the use and possession of a firearm, the provision does not apply, Joel said.

The Civil Service Commission said the sheriff's department's Rules of Conduct "requires that employees shall conduct both their private and professional lives in such a manner as to avoid bringing disprepute upon the department."

Burrell, who has been with the sheriff's department for almost five years, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Jones said he did not want to comment in detail about the case.

"I guess the facts just kind of speak for themselves," Jones said.

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