Case dismissed against EPD officer

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   An Elizabethton Police Department officer will return to work following a temporary suspension after he was arrested Friday and charged by his ex-wife with assault under domestic violence.
   In a hearing Wednesday, General Sessions Court Judge John Walton refused to issue an order of protection to Stacy M. Peters, 1541 Southside Road, following an argument Thursday between Peters and her ex-husband, Ptl. Shannon Peters.
   According to police records and court testimony, Ptl. Mike McIntosh was dispatched around 3:07 p.m. Thursday to Eastside Freewill Baptist Church in reference to a domestic dispute involving child custody. The officer was advised that the call came from Peters' current wife, Tiffany, stating that they needed an officer to respond to the church parking lot.
   When Ptl. McIntosh arrived, he observed the right side sliding door to Stacy's van open and Shannon sitting in the second-row bench seat. Tiffany Peters was standing outside while Stacy Peters was sitting in the driver's seat with the 5-year-old son in her lap. The child was crying for his father.
   Stacy told the officer that it was her day for custody and she wanted Shannon out of the rear seat of the vehicle. She then asked the officer, "Do I have to call Chief (Roger) Deal to get him out of my vehicle?"
   Ptl. McIntosh told her that the shift supervisor, Capt. Rusty Verran, was en route and would arrive shortly. While en route, however, Capt. Verran was diverted to an automobile accident on U.S. Highway 19E.
   According to testimony, Shannon and Tiffany went to the church parking lot where they saw Stacy's van. Stacy had gone to pick up the Peters' daughter from school. Shannon and Tiffany had the Peters' son in their vehicle and were meeting with Stacy to hand the child over. The Peters share custody of the children.
   When the 5-year-old was awakened and placed in the car seat inside the van, he began to cry for his father. Stacy told Shannon, "Your son's crying. Get in there and see if you can do anything with him."
   Shannon said he unbuckled the harness and the child clung to his neck, saying he didn't want to go with his mother. Shannon asked Stacy whether he could keep the child a while longer, perhaps take him to get something to eat and calm him down.
   Stacy allegedly grabbed the child from Shannon and pulled him from the second-row seat through the spaces between the front seats, then told Shannon to get out of the vehicle. Stacy said Shannon grabbed her by the sweatshirt, nearly jerking her out of the van, and "then let go when he realized what he had done."
   Shannon said he wasn't leaving until the child calmed down. Stacy then drove the van from the rear of the parking lot to the front with their son in her lap and Shannon inside the van with the door open.
   When Ptl. McIntosh arrived, Shannon told him that he was concerned for his son's safety and that Stacy needed to put their son in the car seat before she left.
   On Friday, Stacy took out a warrant charging Shannon with assault under domestic violence and sought an order of protection.
   Elizabethton Detective Anthony Buck, who conducted a taped interview with Stacy, and other officers who spoke with her following the incident, said at no time did she say she had been assaulted or that she was afraid of her ex-husband.
   Shannon was arrested around 8:05 p.m. Friday and released around 8:15 p.m. after Judge Walton waived the usual 12-hour jail time -- or cooling off period -- in accordance with Tennessee's Domestic Violence Law.
   Judge Walton dismissed the order of protection, saying it is a "very misunderstood" statute. "A lot of people think it's like a restraining order. It's not. It has some of the powers of a restraining order but it has to be proven," he said, such as threatening abuse or committing acts of violence.
   Walton said Stacy Peters failed to carry that burden of proof and dismissed the case. Peters will go to court in June to face the assault charge. Meanwhile, an internal investigation is ongoing.