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Haunted by past, cop quits

Blogger complaint alleges California conviction makes Stone ineligible to serve

News editor

A 1995 California conviction in a misdemeanor domestic violence case, revealed to authorities by a blogger, may have cost Marion police officer Michael Stone his job. The five-year veteran has resigned, effective Saturday.

A complaint submitted July 10 to the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (C-POST) asserted that the conviction disqualified Stone from serving as a police officer.

City administrator Roger Holter confirmed Stone’s resignation Tuesday.

“Mr. Stone has been a member of the Marion police department, serving us faithfully from July 27, 2012, and has indicated Aug. 5 will be his last day,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Holter declined to answer questions about a reason for the resignation or whether C-POST investigators had contacted the city regarding Stone. Holter cited confidentiality of personnel matters.

Because of possible litigation, Stone also declined to discuss specifics about issues that may have contributed to his resignation. However, he described the reaction of friends and family.

“Sad. Very, very sad,” he said. “I get a lot of hugs and a lot of tears. They’re very grateful for what we brought to the table with Legion (his police dog partner). We’re very grateful for the support we’ve received from the city. I just felt it was in the best interests of the city and my family if I found a different direction.”

Stone was Florence police chief before coming to Marion. He previously had been a Butler County sheriff’s deputy.

Stone was 23 years old, living in Rosamond, California, when he was arrested Dec. 15, 1995, charged with a misdemeanor of inflicting “corporal injury on spouse/cohabitant,” according to Kern County Superior Court records.

He entered a plea of nolo contendere and was found guilty. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, to attend family violence counseling, and to “use no force or violence upon Misty Stone,” his wife at the time.

In October 1996, Stone’s probation was terminated after just 10 months, after he supplied proof of counseling and documentation of enrollment in a “domestic violence batterers’ program.”

In March 1997, after apparently moving to Kansas, court records show Stone made a phone call to the court, “stating he needed something from the court stating he could carry a weapon, as he is up for hire as a correctional office(r),” and he was advised to contact the public defender’s office.

Nine days later, Stone’s public defender invoked a California law that allowed Stone to change his plea to not guilty, and the case was then dismissed.

“I don’t know how much I can say about this, but my understanding was that everything was fine, that dismissed meant dismissed,” Stone said. “I had that piece of paper with the same information that you have on it. As you would read it, as I read it, as anybody else with any knowledge at all would look at it and say, ‘Not guilty means not guilty.’ I don’t know what more I could’ve known.”

Complaint filed

Lee White, a former Butler County resident and radio broadcaster, lives in Missouri but writes about Butler County issues, including crime and law enforcement, on a blog called “Butler County Watchdog.”

“I’m not a licensed private investigator,” White said. “I’m just an old reporter who runs a blog, and I do this as kind of a hobby.”

White and another individual who did not reveal his name contacted the Marion County Record and other news outlets Monday about Stone.

A former Butler County deputy discovered the California offense in June while researching court documents about Stone, White said. He told White, who requested additional court documents. After reviewing them, he filed the complaint.

“There’s kind of two parts to this,” he said. “The Kansas Peace Officer Training Act, which is what C-POST administers, does not allow you to be a police officer in Kansas even if your domestic violence conviction has been expunged.”

The act specifically mentions misdemeanor domestic violence as a disqualifier for law enforcement certification.

A federal law also prohibits someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a firearm, White said.

“How this fell through the cracks when he was hired in Kansas, I don’t know,” he said.

White became familiar with Stone in 2008, he said, when he researched the 2003 suicide of Stone’s second wife, Rebecca Denchfield-Stone, in Augusta.

“I was approached by a fellow who was trying to get a candidate elected sheriff, and he told me about the incident in Augusta, that might have been something other than a suicide.”

Augusta chief Tyler Brewer, quoted in a 2016 Butler County Times-Gazette article, said at least seven post-investigation reviews of the case by law enforcement agencies, attorneys, and investigators concluded suicide was the cause of death.

White said he hadn’t found anything to contradict the police’s findings.

Asked about a possible link between the suicide case and the filing of the complaint, Stone was noncommittal.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Everything is speculation. The best way I can answer is to say that situation is what the situation is. That’s it.”

Stone said he wanted to have an attorney review the 1995 case, particularly given the years he has spent in law enforcement.

“We wouldn’t have even gone down this 20-year path if we didn’t think there was a resolution,” he said. “I think we need a new set of eyes on it. I think that maybe some wording or something has taken place in California, and I think we need to take a look at it. It just seems like the right thing to do.”

Stone said another member of the department will be leaving with him: his canine partner, Legion. Stone said that he and his wife, Alicia, had originally paid for Legion and provided most of the financial support for his care. The bonds the Stones and Legion have are like family, Stone said.

Stone reiterated that future plans for his family outweighed other factors in his decision to strike out in a new direction.

“It’s very difficult to walk away from so many wonderful people, but at this late part of our life, I’ve got a grandchild; my daughter’s not getting any younger. It’s time for a new avenue for us. I really think this is God’s way of saying, ‘Hey, change tracks.’”

Last modified Aug. 2, 2017

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