72ºF

JSO: Officer arrested after biting wife's hand during argument

20-year veteran charged with misdemeanor domestic battery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 20-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has been charged with domestic battery after police said he bit his wife's hand Thursday during an argument.

Director Mike Bruno said Officer Lenell Boyer, 51, got into an argument with his wife, and she put her hand over his mouth because he was getting loud and cursing, and she didn't want him to wake their sleeping children.

Bruno said in response, Boyer bit his wife's pinky and her wrist. She suffered minor injuries. An investigator said red marks and slight swelling could be seen on her hand and wrist, consistent with what she told police.

Bruno said the wife was encouraged by family members to report the incident, and when she did, Boyer was interviewed and then arrested.

“It's unacceptable for someone to perpetrate domestic violence, and it's unacceptable that someone has to live or be forced to live in that kind of environment,” Bruno said, pointing out that last month was JSO's domestic violence awareness campaign.

Boyer was charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery and reassigned to desk duty pending the investigation.

Bruno said that like all JSO officers, Boyer has been trained in deescalation techniques, but he did not use those and failed in his responsibility to protect the community.

“The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office stepped up, arrested him, and he'll be held accountable administratively, as well as criminally, for those charges," Bruno said.

This week's incident was not Boyer's first run-in with trouble.

A 2010 report said Boyer hit a dump truck on the interstate, left the scene and urinated in the back of a patrol car. The trooper didn’t conduct a field sobriety test and sent Boyer home with a ticket. He later had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 when a JSO supervisor made him take a breath test.

Retired JSO detective James Brown said the stress of the job can sometimes leak into an officer's personal life.

"They’re doing jobs that the general public don’t want to do, so they’re having to do it and once that stress becomes apparent, that sometimes manifests itself in their personal lives," Brown said.

He said it's tough for officers who feel worried or stressed from the job because they’re often looked upon as being able to handle anything.

Brown said that if officers feel they have confidentiality, they can contact a supervisor or seek professional help before stress leads to a bad decision in their personal lives.

The criminal investigation into Boyer's domestic battery charges will be conducted by the State Attorney's Office, and after that is complete, the administrative investigation will begin, Bruno said.

Bruno acknowledged that this was the 10th JSO employee arrested this year.

“One arrest is too many, but with that being said, it's reassuring that when there is an issue, and it's brought to our attention, it's addressed appropriately, and if that's through an arrest, then that's what should happen,” Bruno said. “The reality of it is, no officer wants someone else tarnishing the badge. The officers want to do it right, and they expect others to do it right, and when they do it wrong, they understand there's a measure in place to address those.”

Since Mike Williams became sheriff in July 2015:

  • 19 officers and 2 civilian employees have been arrested
  • 45 others have either resigned or retired while under investigation
  • 32 have been suspended
  • 2 were demoted

About the Authors: