Indianola police officer Shuntequa Eriyonnia Lofton was found guilty on charges of domestic violence, with injuries in municipal court on Tuesday.
The charges stem from an April 26 arrest where the officer allegedly assaulted a female acquaintance.
Lofton, who is technically still employed with IPD, failed to appear for Tuesday’s proceedings, however, Attorney Ashley Harris was in court to represent her.
Sentencing in the case had to be withheld because Lofton was not physically present. It is unclear at this time why Lofton did not show, however Tonya Franklin, city prosecutor, reportedly requested a bench warrant be issued for her.
In her report and testimony, police investigator Bennie Milton reportedly stated that on the night of the incident she saw blood coming from the victim’s eye, and the woman said there was an altercation, and Lofton hit her.
Lofton’s attorney questioned the alleged victim about the nature of her relationship with Lofton and the woman’s sexual orientation. She argued that the two women were not in a dating relationship, but had “experimental sex” one time. She also suggested that their relationship could be better defined as that of “roommates.”
Franklin raised objections to the line of questioning contending that the woman’s sexuality was not relevant.
“Whether she’s a lesbian, bi-sexual or otherwise,” she said. Franklin said it was still classified as domestic violence. “This individual engaged in a domestic violence act,” she added.
According to Judge Kuykendal Murry, the woman initially said that she and Lofton were not in a dating relationship, but did live together and had engaged in sexual activity. However, when she was re-called the woman then said they were in a dating relationship.
In her remarks before announcing her verdict, Murry said, “There is obviously an assault. The victim said under oath that the defendant hit her in the eye that caused injury, which put a cut to her eye.”
Murry read from Mississippi Code 93-21-3, which basically defines dating as a social relationship of romantic or intimate nature between two people, and the statute spells out that the court is to determine the nature of the relationship by examining its length, type and the frequency of interaction between the two people.
Murry said she was making her ruling based on the information given to police by Lofton and the woman during their interviews back in April.
“Based on that, the living together, the type of relationship, the sworn, credible testimony of the two officers for the Indianola police department, the court does find that this was a dating relationship. The court finds that there was an assault, a domestic violence assault that caused bodily injury and therefore the defendant is found guilty.”
Lofton has been inactive with the department since the Indianola board of Aldermen voted unanimously in April to suspend her. She was hired at their March 26 meeting.