Officer allegedly attacks estranged wife

CHICAGO Officer Donald Branch was on duty at the Englewood police district when he allegedly left his post and confronted his estranged wife at her home near 116th Street and South Elizabeth Tuesday morning.

Neighbors and witnesses say the 16-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department smashed the windows of an SUV, which reportedly belongs to the woman's boyfriend. He also allegedly attacked her and pulled a gun on her.

Officials are charging him with three counts of felony official misconduct and one count of domestic battery.

Besides facing a criminal investigation, the Independent Police Review Board has also begun a probe of the case.

Police say Branch was with his partner at the time of the attack. His partner has not been charged.

Branch is due at a bond hearing later today.

Branch has been charged with three counts of official misconduct and domestic battery. Officials say he was in an unmarked car and in civilian clothes.

On Monday afternoon, the judge gave him a $150,000 bond. Branch posted the required ten percent almost immediately.

Branch is used to walking out of the criminal courts building as a police officer, not as a defendant.

"This is a very severe, violent crime and brazen conduct by an officer on duty with his service weapon," said Michael Evans, Assistant State's Attorney.

The couple have been separated for months.

"The defendant puts his hands around her neck, slaps her in the face and throws her to the ground," said Evans.

Prosecutors say Branch then pointed his revolver at his wife's friend and chased him into an alley, and then they say Branch grabbed a shovel and smashed in the windows of his wife's SUV.

"It's unfortunate always when a marriage has some problems and it appears that this may be an example of this," said Dan Herbert, defense attorney. "He looks forward to his day in court."

Prosecutors say police have been called to the home before for domestic disputes, but this is the first time Branch has been charged with a crime.

"He's a good man, a good father to his children and a highly decorated police officer," said Herbert.

Branch has been relieved of his duties pending the investigation. And part of the conditions of bond include an order of protection and revoking of his firearm ownership card.
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