A Concord police officer charged with second degree domestic violence last week will be released from jail Wednesday on personal recognizance, a judge has ordered.
Bryan Croft, 38, was arrested last week and charged with five felonies after allegedly assaulting his wife in October and later tampering with witnesses and evidence.
Prosecutors argued he should continue to be held because he posed a danger to his victim and accused him of stalking her prior to his arrest.
Merrimack County Superior Judge David Anderson agreed with the defense who argued Croft should be released from jail.
“Generally we start with the presumption that bail is presumed in most cases,” Anderson said. “Preventative detention is an exception to that. It requires clear and convincing evidence that release would pose a danger. And while there are some concerning events that happened after the date of the allegations in this case, and I continue to be somewhat concerned by those, they don’t involve violent conduct, they don’t involve threats of violent conduct in either event, and there’s no record that the defendant had prior to this.”
On Oct. 17, Croft allegedly strangled his wife by the neck at their Concord home as she held their infant son. The assault was witnessed by the woman’s 9-year-old daughter, who kicked and punched Croft to make him stop, according to a police affidavit.
After the alleged assault, Croft locked his wife, the baby and their son out of the house by bolting a door with a chain, the police affidavit states. As the woman reached in to unlock the chain, Croft slammed the door on her arm, according to court documents. The force of the door caused bruising, which served as the basis for the misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
Upon his release Wednesday, Anderson ordered Croft to live with his mother in Boscawen, that he submit to electronic location monitoring, and that he avoid a quarter mile radius around the alleged victim’s home in Concord.
Croft, the son of Merrimack County Sheriff David Croft, is charged with second-degree assault, witness tampering, and falsifying physical evidence, all felonies. He also faces a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. He is currently on unpaid leave from the police department, Concord Police Chief Bradley Osgood said last week.
Croft was arrested Friday and initially held without bail. Anderson cited the severity of the charges as well as the accusations that Croft had committed witness tampering.
At the bail hearing Tuesday, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office argued that Croft should stay in preventative detention, citing actions Croft had taken in the weeks since the alleged assault that they said indicated he was stalking his victim.
Croft had agreed to a Division for Children Youth and Families “safety plan” mandating that he leave the home and avoid contact with the victim, his wife. Senior Assistant Attorney General Timothy Sullivan pointed to police testimony that indicated Croft had waited in a parked car outside of the victim’s attorney’s office after recognizing her car. He was texting the victim at the time, asking her to call him when she was done at the attorney’s.
“What is he doing there?” Sullivan said. “He’s sending her a message that he knows where she is.”
Sullivan also brought up Croft’s behavior on the morning of his arrest, when he was found driving near the alleged victim’s home.
But Croft’s defense attorney, James Moir, countered that text messages showed that Croft was attempting to communicate his presence outside the attorney’s office, and other text messages with a mutual friend indicated that he was trying to avoid the alleged victim when he drove by the house.
Sullivan brought up concerns that Croft had gradually escalated his violence against the victim, noting an interview the alleged victim gave to police that the assaults dated back two years.
Moir returned that Croft had not exhibited any violent behavior since the alleged events in October.
Under the release order, Croft must have no contact with the victim or any of the children. He must follow a 7 p.m. curfew, and he must submit to random drug and alcohol testing, Anderson ordered. The quarter mile restricted area around the alleged victim’s home will allow him to travel to downtown Concord, Moir said at the hearing.
Croft is set to be released Wednesday morning and affixed with a monitoring device at that time.