Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Former Glendale police sergeant arrested in Oregon

A former Glendale police sergeant is being held without bond in an Oregon jail after he reportedly assaulted his live-in girlfriend, records show.

Brent Thomas, who resigned last November amid an internal investigation, is also accused of continuing to possess firearms despite an order of protection filed by his estranged wife that bars him from doing so.

Last summer, an anonymous caller reported Thomas, 44, had abused his wife. The couple was in the midst of a divorce when the allegations surfaced. Thomas's wife said he had abused her for years, and shared pictures of her injuries.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office decided earlier this year not to file charges against Thomas.

Thomas, who spent 14 years as a Glendale officer, recently moved to Oregon.

Lincoln City, Ore. police responded to Thomas's new home early Sunday after a caller reported he had assaulted his girlfriend. They arrived to find his 27-year-old girlfriend's face covered in blood and her eyes swollen, according to a probable cause statement filed in Lincoln County Circuit Court.

The woman said the two had been arguing when Thomas told her to leave because their "relationship was not going to work."

He reportedly grabbed the woman by the throat when she tried to get money from a safe and later punched her "multiple times in the face and head," according to court filings.

She was treated at a hospital and later released.

Police responding to the couple's home also discovered dozens of loaded firearms including AR-15 rifles and semiautomatic handguns.

A July 2010 order of protection bars Thomas from possessing guns. Police allege Thomas has continued to operate a website that sells firearms and accessories despite the order.

In the hours after the reported assault, police struggled to find Thomas. A gun was noted to be missing.

Police later arrested Thomas along a Benton County highway, about 75 miles away.

Officers found $400,000 cash in Thomas's trunk but not the handgun, according to a court filing.

Thomas was arrested on suspicion of 71 counts of contempt of court for possessing firearms in his home, as well as felony assault, menacing, strangulation and harassment.

On Monday, a Lincoln County judge denied bail for Thomas after prosecutors argued he had failed to abide by the rules of the protective order, fled his home after the alleged assault and removed a handgun before he left.

A Monday court filing by prosecutors also cited Thomas's training as Glendale SWAT officer.

An attorney representing Thomas has previously denied abuse allegations against him.

Thomas had no major disciplinary problems and good performance reviews before the July 2010 call which spurred a criminal and internal investigation of Thomas.

Glendale police have said Thomas was relieved of enforcement duties immediately after the abuse allegations surfaced. He was ordered to return his department weapons and told he would be reassigned to administrative tasks during the investigation.

He never returned to work and chose not to speak to police investigators, a spokesman said.

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