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Buckner police chief charged with domestic assault

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BUCKNER, MO (KCTV) -

A call that came in as attempted suicide went down on paper as assault, and the Buckner Police Chief is at the center of the case.

According to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Police Chief Lawrence "Mike" Cook is suspected of assaulting his 17-year-old son. A day after KCTV5's exclusive report, the sheriff's office said Cook was charged with one count of domestic violence assault.

"We have an allegation, we have to investigate it to its fullest," said Sgt. Russell Beach of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

The incident report taken on April 2 indicates someone called for help at 2 p.m. Deputies were dispatched to a home on Atherton-Sibley Road about someone who was trying to commit suicide. Court records list the home as belonging to Cook and his wife. The report doesn't say who placed the call for help, but it says the caller reported "a 17-year-old male not breathing... apparently overdosed on unknown medication."

Reports say the teen had overdosed and he told investigators his father, Cook, had hit him earlier during an altercation at police headquarters, on city property.

The narrative from that point forward is scratched out with black marker, redacted from the public record as investigative details. What's notable is that in the section labeled "type of incident" there is no reference to drugs or suicide, and the address listed is not the one where that call for help was answered.

"There weren't' any physically debilitating injuries, nothing that warranted a state-level assault charge," Beach said.

The type of incident is domestic assault in the third degree. The victim is the police chief's 17-year-old son. The sheriff's department said the assault happened at a commercial property at Washington and Hudson streets. The teen was found not breathing in the 27000 block of Atherton-Sibley Road.

KCTV5 contacted the city administrator, who deferred to the mayor. The mayor was not at his office or at home Thursday afternoon or evening. An officer at the police station said the chief was not in, then deferred to the city administrator. There was no answer at the police chief's home Thursday evening.

The sheriff's office said third-degree domestic assault is a misdemeanor with a seriousness level akin to a municipal ticket violation. Cook now faces a municipal summons for the alleged assault. He was never taken into custody.

"The suspect was contacted, allowed to sign the GOS, and was released of his own recognizance with a court date," Beach said.

Beach said multiple city employees witnessed the confrontation, but Buckner's city attorney told KCTV5 off camera that Cook is still employed as the town's police chief. Cook was also not at work on Friday.

While the sheriff's office often collaborates with Cook and the Buckner police, Beach said that won't change their investigation.

"You can't let it affect your investigation. If you do then you'll be biased and alter things and you can't do that," he said.

The Buckner City Clerk said Cook was hired as police chief in 2010. He is expected to make his first court appearance on June 4.

The victim has since been released from the hospital.

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