Nov. 20—LEWISTON — An Auburn police officer denied Monday a misdemeanor domestic violence assault charge in which he reportedly strangled a woman and bloodied her nose over the weekend.
Stephen Easley Jr., 31, appeared in 8th District Court by videoconference from Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, where he was held without bail since his early Sunday morning arrest.
Justice Harold Stewart II set bail at $500 cash or $250 cash with supervised release. Bail conditions would prohibit Easley from having or using alcohol or illegal drugs for which he can be searched and tested if suspected of violating those conditions.
He is barred from possessing any dangerous weapons or firearms for which he can be searched at random.
Easley may not have any contact with two named witnesses in the case.
An attorney was appointed to represent him. An attorney who represented Easley during his initial court appearance Monday said he pays $1,400 each month in child support.
Defense attorney Gregory LeClerc told the judge Monday that Easley is a diabetic and is failing to get the medical treatment he needs at the jail.
"It puts his health significantly at risk," LeClerc said.
In an affidavit in support of Easley's arrest, local officer Ahmed Kaviro wrote that the woman Easley allegedly assaulted said he had strangled her after she had grabbed his cellphone and had run to the bedroom of an apartment on Webster Street.
She said he had chased her and held her down on the bed and had used both hands to strangle her, according to the affidavit. On a scale of one to 10, his grip was a seven or eight, she said.
Kaviro wrote that he observed red marks on the woman's face and neck. She had recently cleaned blood from her nose, she said.
She complained of nose and neck pain, Kaviro wrote.
The woman told police Easley had strangled her in the past during sex.
She said it wasn't the first time the two had argued, but it was the first time he had hurt her and choked her during their altercation, according to the affidavit.
The woman told police she had hidden Easley's duty firearm in a spare bedroom.
She said he hadn't threatened her with it, but had threatened to harm himself with it in the past.
Police had separated the two after being called to the scene, one officer speaking with Easley in the apartment another had spoken with the woman in the hallway.
She told police she didn't "want any trouble" and shouted to Easley that she hadn't called the police.
"Yeah, I bet you did," Easley said, according to the affidavit.
Easley denied harming the woman, according to the affidavit.
He said she'd been upset because she'd believed he had cheated on her and then attacked him.
Easley told police the woman had hit him "a few times," but he wasn't pursuing charges against her.
Police observed minor cuts to the side of his head and one of his eyes.
He said he was drunk, according to the affidavit.
Asked whether he had hit the woman, Easley said: "No, never. I would never."
He said he'd been in law enforcement since 2002 and knew better than to "lay hands on her."
Easley told police she had locked herself in the bathroom and he had locked himself in the bedroom until police arrived.
The woman told police the two had been out drinking with friends earlier that night and had started arguing on their way to the apartment. When they'd arrived, she had gone in first, found Easley's cellphone and saw deleted emails "about some girls," she said.
When she confronted him about it, they argued and he started chasing her, she said.
A witness, who had called police, said she heard the couple arguing, the woman yelling: "Get out of my room" then, "You hit me first."
In his affidavit, Kaviro wrote: "I believe he did, in fact, assault and strangle" the woman.
Kennebec County Assistant District Attorney Shannon Flaherty appeared Monday as prosecutor because of the potential for a conflict of interest for a prosecutor from the Androscoggin County District Attorney's Office to handle the case.
She said her office has concerns about Easley's ties to Maine because the status of his job as an Auburn police officer is in question since his arrest and he has children who live in a different state.
Easley, who is from Loranger, Louisiana, started working as an officer in Auburn a few months ago.
Deputy Police Chief Timothy Cougle of the Auburn Police Department said Easley had been placed on administrative leave "pending an investigation into this incident."
According to Auburn Police Department's Facebook page, Easley grew up in Louisiana. After about six years working in corrections, he transitioned to patrol as a deputy sheriff for Tangipahoa Sheriff's Department.
He worked there for about six years before deciding to pursue a career in law enforcement in Maine.
Easley also spent time as a K-9 officer while with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana.
He has three children, according to the department's Facebook page.
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