Fort Wayne, IN — All too often, in the land of the free, police officers are caught and even found guilty of horrific crimes but avoid accountability. Even when police officers plead guilty to these crimes, as the following case illustrates, their blue privilege allows them to avoid the inside of a jail cell.
In October of 2020, Fort Wayne police sergeant Boyce J. Ballinger, 48, was arrested for strangling his wife in a drunken fury. According to police, Ballinger and his wife had just returned from a party when his wife questioned whether or not he had too much to drink. This set the woman-beating cop off.
Court documents detail what unfolded next. After Ballinger's wife asked if her husband had anything other than beer to drink, the police sergeant snapped, jumped up off the couch and threw his wife into the wall.
According to the document, Ballinger held his wife against the wall — by her throat — strangling her for asking what he had to drink. Luckily, for her, Ballinger is weak and she was able to escape and locked herself in a bedroom upstairs.
Ballinger then followed his wife and proceeded to bang on the door. She said it was “like he was breaking the door.” After he stopped trying to break down the door, Ballinger’s wife then texted another member of the Fort Wayne Police Department about what happened.
Police arrived at the home and talked with both Ballinger and his wife. Court documents show she had complaints of neck pain along with redness and abrasions to her neck.
After the incident, and despite the evidence against him, Ballinger was given paid leave until he took a plea deal earlier this month.
When he was originally charged in October, Ballinger pleaded not guilty to the charges of Strangulation and Domestic Battery related to the incident. However, on Feb. 11, he changed his plea to guilty. This was likely in exchange for the sweet "sentence" he received this week.
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As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the domestic battery charge in exchange for his agreement to plead guilty to one count of strangulation. Instead of going to jail, Ballinger received less than two years of unsupervised probation and a no-contact order with his estranged wife.
Is this justice?
To all the victims of domestic violence out there, this is a kick in the teeth. Authorities constantly tell victims to come forward and report their abuse, promising that justice will be carried out. However, time and again, like this case illustrates, the abusers receive little to no jail time.
When the abuser has a badge and a gun, the probability of jail time goes down even further, despite the high rate of domestic violence in police officer families.
Indeed, and as TFTP has reported at length, cops are some of the worst abusers.
The fact is that police officers in the United States have an exceedingly higher rate of domestic violence than any other occupation. The average rate of domestic violence among most families in America is around 10%. As the National Center for Women and Policing points out, two studies have found thatat least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence. That is a four-fold increase.
A simple Google search will illustrate how police officers are arrested for domestic violence on a near-weekly basis. It is also estimated that the incident rate for domestic violence is likely far higher than reported as many women stay silent out of fear of retaliation and the fact that their abuser's brothers in blue will cover for them.
As TFTP has previously noted, a report by a government-appointed watchdog group shows that most of the time, abusive officers who commit these crimes, do so with seeming impunity. Garza staying on paid vacation after his first arrest is a perfect example of why that is so.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can seek help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or by calling 1-800-799-7233.