Fired Fort Worth officer reinstated after charges reduced

08/21/2014 3:50 PM

08/21/2014 5:09 PM

A police officer fired in February after being accused of assaulting his teenage daughter is back on the force after reaching an agreement with the city that reduced his discipline to a 45-day suspension.

Originally charged with assault with bodily injury of a family member, Larry Wayne Gulley was sentenced last month to three months’ deferred adjudication probation on a charge of disorderly conduct in a deal with prosecutors.

“The victim changed her story and, in light of that, prosecutors felt this was an appropriate resolution to the case,” said Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.

On Thursday, a reinstatement order was filed with the Civil Service Commission, stating that Gulley’s indefinite suspension from the Police Department had been reduced to 45 days, backdated to have ended March 26.

Gulley, who had been with the department since 2003, will receive back pay dating back to March 27.

As part of the agreement, Gulley cannot appeal the 45-day suspension.

When he was fired in February, a disciplinary letter obtained by the Star-Telegram said the alleged assault occurred after Gulley interrupted an argument between his 16-year-old daughter and another person in the girl’s bedroom in their Mansfield home.

The daughter told investigators that her father became angry when she gave him “a look” and punched her in the face, causing her nose to bleed.

She said Gulley, 49, then ordered the witness to bring him a belt, which he then struck her with. She said he then slammed her to the ground, squeezing his hands around her throat, twisting her body and later standing on her chest.

After covering her mouth and nose with his hands, she said, he released her and told her to wash up. The girl said she called 911 upon reaching the bathroom.

A witness told a Mansfield officer that he saw Gulley punch the teen in the face and step on her “like she was an insignificant being or a cockroach,” the disciplinary letter had stated.

Police Chief Jeff Halstead said Thursday that the administrative case was basically a “he-said, she-said” and complex case.

He said Gulley contended that he was trying to control the teen as she was having a violent outburst and that during the effort, “he was injured and he reacted to that injury.”

“I did not see this as a case where he intentionally injured a child or intentionally set out to assault someone in his family,” Halstead said. “It looked like he was defending himself, but the charge was still serious.”

Halstead said while he indefinitely suspended Gulley, he promised the officer he’d help him get his job back if the charge was later dismissed or reduced to a Class C misdemeanor.

Terry Daffron Porter, Gulley’s attorney, said she was pleased with the negotiated settlement.

“In light of the new facts and information I presented to the chief, and his reassessment of the case, I think reinstatement with a definite suspension was the only option,” Porter said. “It was the right thing to do. My hope is that reassessing some disciplinary actions against officers by the chief will become a new trend, at least one can hope.”

Porter said the daughter has been living with her father since December.

“I think that statements were made when individuals were in a very angry and emotional state,” Porter said.

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