Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 8, 2013

Decision coming soon on whether to discipline deputy


TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse sheriff's officials said they'll soon decide whether to discipline a deputy convicted of disturbing the peace.

Sheriff Tom Bensley said authorities planned to speak with Deputy Ryan Salisbury today as part of an internal investigation and then will determine their next step.

Bensley would not say when Salisbury's fate will be decided, but said it will happen "soon."

"We're meeting with him (today) to go over the internal investigation and his side of the story," Bensley said.

Salisbury, 35, has been with the sheriff's department about 10 years. He was placed on unpaid suspension on Jan. 2, and this week received a delayed sentencing in district court and a year probation for a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace.

Salisbury initially was charged with domestic violence after a Dec. 6 incident at Union Street Station in Traverse City.

If Salisbury completes court-ordered terms during the next year, the conviction will be vacated, said Antrim County Prosecutor Charlie Koop, who handled the case as a special prosecutor.

Authorities said Salisbury struck his girlfriend with an elbow to the neck and made contact with a man who sat next to her in the Union Street bar.

Koop earlier said it appeared Salisbury's girlfriend was not a target; rather, he shoved her aside as he confronted a man who had sent her text messages. Witnesses provided conflicting accounts during the investigation, Koop said.

Eighty-Sixth District Judge Thomas J. Phillips ordered Salisbury to have no contact with the male victim. He also said Salisbury cannot possess alcohol or illegal drugs and he must stay away from bars.

He also is not to possess firearms or engage in aggressive behavior, except during his law enforcement job.

Salisbury is required to complete a 26-week group therapy program for men.

"The thing is, Mr. Salisbury has to sit in with a group of other people who've been assigned to the men's program and has to deal with the fact they all know he's a police officer. He's going through it with everybody else," Koop said.

Salisbury's attorney, Dena Horvath, said he voluntarily enrolled and is eight weeks into the program.

Horvath said Salisbury has tried to focus on his family.

"Basically, it was an unfortunate set of circumstances and Ryan just hopes that he and everyone can move on from here and go forward," she said.

In 2011, Salisbury's then-wife asked Leelanau County assistant prosecutor Doug Donaldson not to issue a domestic violence charge for a separate incident of alleged assault against her.