published Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Chattanooga detective accused of headbutting wife during argument; faces assault charge

A Chattanooga police detective is expected to appear before a judge in Rutherford County, Tenn., today to ask to have contact with his wife after he was arrested Sunday for reportedly assaulting her, court records show.

Detective Michael Early, who will mark 20 years with the department in June, posted a $1,500 bond from the Rutherford County Jail after he was accused of hitting his wife, causing a laceration on the bridge of her nose.

Early's wife told an officer that she woke up in the couple's hotel room at the Clarion Inn, 2227 Old Fort Parkway, to find that her husband was gone. She found her husband in a friend's room.

The couple had an argument after Early's wife refused to return to their hotel room. He reportedly pulled her by the hair while trying to take her back to the room, a Murfreesboro police arrest report states. She left and returned to the room. The arguing continued.

Allegedly, at some point, Early head butted his wife. When a Murfreesboro, Tenn., officer questioned Early, he said he did not remember what happened. The report states both appeared to be intoxicated.

Early, 44, investigates robberies at the department.

Since his arrest, Early has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

As part of his bail conditions, Early is not allowed to have any weapons.

Early's next court date is set for March 13 before Rutherford County General Sessions Court Judge Ben Hall McFarlin Jr.

Another Chattanooga police officer was arrested last year for domestic assault.

Brian Smith was arrested on May 23 after his wife accused him of assaulting her during an argument. The case was later dismissed.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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