Holden extends paid leave for police chief accused in hammer attack of wife

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HOLDEN, Mo. — At a special, closed-door executive session Tuesday night, the Holden, Missouri mayor and city council extended the police chief’s paid administrative leave by 30 days.

Chief Trent Neal is accused of hitting his wife with a hammer late last month, leaving her temporarily unconscious.

The 29-year-old has been charged with third-degree domestic assault.

His wife said Neal struck her on the left side of the head with a framing hammer March 30, 2020, according to court documents.

She said before that he allegedly grabbed her neck and shoved her head into the wall, court records say. Neal’s wife said she tried to hide behind a wooden table in the garage, and that’s when Neal allegedly grabbed the hammer. 

When she “came to,” she said Neal was no longer in the garage. The woman called her friend, who then called authorities, court documents say.

Mayor Doyle Weeks said the city is already leaning toward termination.

“This gives him an opportunity to get his case ready for court, and present to us,” Weeks said. “After this 30 days, I don’t see an extension being given at that point in time, and we’ll probably proceed with removal after that.”

Weeks previously told FOX4 the likely only other option on the table Tuesday would have been suspension without pay. 

Weeks said a city attorney cautioned that would be moving too fast procedurally.

He said this case is black mark for the city of Holden.

“The social media side of it now is giving us a black label like because we’re a small town we’re trying to cover this up.  That’s not what we’re doing,” Weeks said. “The law states that you’re innocent until proven guilty, and that’s what we’re giving the man, we’re giving the man a trial.”

According to Neal’s LinkedIn profile, he’s served as Holden Police Chief since 2019. Before that, he was a deputy with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for nearly four years. 

In court documents released April 1, his wife said Neal “has a history of abusing her.” She said he’s “assaulted her multiple times each month over the past two years.” Neal’s wife went on to say he’s always threatening to take their child, telling her he’s a police chief.

She told investigators she feared losing her child and worried Neal “will harm her or kill her if she seeks help,” according to court documents. 

Authorities said Neal’s wife had obvious swelling on her cheek and a 2-inch bruise just below her temple. 

When the detective asked Neal how his wife got the bruises, he said he had “no idea” and that when they got home, he put their child to sleep and went to bed, court records say. The detective also noted an inconsistency in Neal’s story. 

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