Milwaukee fire captain pleads not guilty, accused of strangling, beating his girlfriend

MILWAUKEE -- 47-year-old Leon Butts -- a high-ranking Milwaukee firefighter facing several domestic abuse charges after he allegedly beat and strangled his live-in girlfriend, appeared in court Friday, May 5th for a preliminary hearing and a bail/bond hearing.

Leon Butts

During the hearings, Butts pleaded not guilty and the court found probable cause and bound Butts over for trial. The court also modified bail conditions for release privileges on GPS monitoring -- to allow release for a once a week visit to a grocery store, scheduled doctor or dentist appointments, verified work hours, and all legal meetings and proceedings.

The allegations against 47-year-old Leon Butts could put him in prison for the next 14 years.

He's facing the following charges:

    For the past 25 years, Butts has been on the Milwaukee Fire Department, rising to the rank of captain and the director of EMS training. Earlier this month, Butts trained school children in CPR.

    Leon Butts

    On Saturday, April 29th Butts was in court for the domestic abuse charges.

    The criminal complaint says on three different occasions Butts allegedly choked his girlfriend during an argument.

    In March, the complaint states on a trip to Mexico, Butts "slapped her with an open hand... resulting in a black eye." The complaint says another time Butts told his girlfriend, "he was going to bury her by the shed."

    The complaint continues alleging that earlier this week during an argument, Butts "head-butted her" and "bear-hugged her... while pressing hard on her chest causing her difficulty breathing." The complaint says Butts "had her in a choke hold around her neck so she could not breathe."

    Leon Butts

    "The accusation is that on three separate occasions where this defendant strangled his girlfriend, who is the victim, on two different occasions. On one occasion, so much so, that she vomited and blood came out. She's afraid for her life," said May Lee, prosecutor.

    Leon Butts

    "His chief contacted him when the charges were issued, said you should come in. He did immediately. He has a very close relationship with his chief," said Douglas Rose, Butts' attorney.

    Bail was set at $10,000 cash, and if he makes that he would wear a GPS monitoring device.

    Butts and his girlfriend were supposed to be headed for another vacation in Mexico, according to the criminal complaint. Instead, he is spending that time in jail.

    MFD officials confirmed for FOX6 News Butts is on paid suspension from the department pending an internal investigation.

    Butts was recently honored for his 25 years of service on the department.