A deputy whose employment with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office ended earlier this month has been charged with domestic battery in connection with an alleged incident from October 2020.
Breanna Pence, 32, was employed as a deputy for about four and a half years, beginning in October 2018. Her employment ended on May 3, according to George Diepenbrock, a spokesperson for DGSO.
The charging document, filed April 17, alleges that Pence “unlawfully, knowingly, or recklessly cause(d) bodily harm” to a man who was then a supervisor in the sheriff’s office, or “knowingly cause(d) physical contact with such person in a rude, insulting, or angry manner” on Oct. 31, 2020. Further details of the allegations were unclear. The charge is a class B misdemeanor.
All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
The document lists two former and one current sheriff’s office employees — then a deputy, an administrator, and a corrections officer, respectively — as witnesses. (Witnesses listed on charging documents are not necessarily eyewitnesses to an alleged offense, but anyone who prosecutors might call to testify.)
Melissa Underwood, a spokesperson for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said the KBI investigated the case at the request of the sheriff’s office.
“They contacted us in early January 2023 after learning of an allegation,” she said via email Friday.
It was not clear why the alleged incident was not reported sooner. Under state law, “when a law enforcement officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence … has been committed, the officer shall, without undue delay, arrest the person for which the officer has probable cause to believe committed the crime or offense” if the person was not acting in self-defense.
We asked the sheriff’s office several questions, including when and how DGSO became aware of the alleged incident; whether Pence or anyone else had been suspended or disciplined in any way in connection with the allegations; and whether Pence had been working on domestic violence cases since the alleged incident.
“Due to the pending criminal case, we cannot comment further at this time,” Diepenbrock said, also declining to clarify whether the case was a factor in Pence’s employment ending.
Underwood said the KBI provided investigative findings to the Douglas County district attorney’s office in February 2023. Assistant Johnson County District Attorney William F. Hurst IV is handling the case as a special prosecutor.
Pence appeared in court for arraignment Thursday afternoon with her attorney, Jeff Kratofil. He entered a plea of not guilty on Pence’s behalf, asked that the next hearing be set out a couple of months and told the judge he and Hurst believed they will have the case resolved prior to then.
Kratofil said via email Friday that “at this stage of the case we will not be making any comments.”
Pence’s law enforcement certification is in good standing, Michelle Meier, counsel for the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, said via email Friday.
The next hearing in the case is a status conference set for July 18 in Douglas County District Court Chief Judge James McCabria’s courtroom.
A spokesperson for the Johnson County DA’s office did not respond to an email seeking more information on Friday.