Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 8, 2012

GT deputy arrested after report of assault

He also was a suspect in a separate assault last year


TRAVERSE CITY — City police arrested a Grand Traverse sheriff's deputy after witnesses said he assaulted his girlfriend at a downtown saloon.

Officers arrested off-duty deputy Ryan Salisbury on Friday at about 5:30 a.m. after an incident at Union Street Station several hours earlier. Salisbury was a suspect in an assault against another woman last year, but Leelanau County authorities declined to charge him with a crime.

City police and sheriff's officials wouldn't identify the deputy, but Grand Traverse Prosecutor Al Schneider and his attorney identified Salisbury.

City police Capt. Brian Heffner said officers went to the bar at about 12:15 a.m. on a report that a man assaulted a woman.

"We had allegations made that a man and a woman who reside together ... had what witnesses described as physical altercation," he said.

The woman denied being injured, Heffner said, but officers arrested the suspect at his residence. Grand Traverse Sheriff Tom Bensley said the deputy was suspended with pay after his Friday arrest on suspicion for domestic violence.

Defense attorney Craig Elhart said he will "vigorously defend" Salisbury against any charges that may arise.

"Mr. Salisbury did nothing wrong," he said.

Schneider said he will remove himself from the case because of a conflict of interest and will ask for a special prosecutor to be assigned.

Salisbury was investigated last year by Leelanau County authorities for suspicion of domestic violence, but was not arrested. Leelanau County Prosecutor Joe Hubbell was assigned to the case after Schneider removed himself.

Assistant Leelanau Prosecutor Doug Donaldson handled that case, which he characterized as a "shoving match."

"It was not a significant assault," he said.

The female victim later decided she didn't want to press charges, Donaldson said, and none were issued. But the fact that Salisbury is in trouble now for an alleged assault complaint made Donaldson think twice about the previous case.

"It gives me pause for thought regarding my prior decisions, but they are what they are," he said.