SALEM – Suspended Amesbury police officer Larry Bybee escaped jail time Wednesday on a charge he assaulted and injured his son, but his future with the department remains in question.
Bybee, 46, was charged in June with assault and battery of a child with injury after police said he punched his son, now 15, in the face and slammed his head against a bathroom wall. The officer was arraigned in Salem District Court days later to avoid any conflict of interest in Newburyport District Court.
He was released on personal recognizance but in September, Bybee was again taken into custody after he was caught drinking alcohol, a violation of his conditions of release.
While back in Salem District Court on Wednesday, Bybee admitted a judge or jury could find him guilty of the charge and agreed to have the case continued for two years.
During that time, Bybee must not abuse his son, he must remain alcohol free with random screens, attend anger management classes and comply with all Department of Children and Families requirements. If he meets all the conditions, the charges against him would be dropped.
Bybee was initially charged with two counts of assault and battery of a child with injury but one charge was reduced to simple assault and battery due to lack of evidence.
Outside the courtroom, Bybee's attorney, Gerry LaFlamme, said his client agreed to a plea deal to spare his family from potentially testifying during trial and to avoid a felony on his record.
"A fair resolution and hopefully he can move on," LaFlamme said.
LaFlamme added that Bybee remains a member of the Amesbury Police Department but could be in violation of department codes of conduct. Attempts to reach Amesbury police Chief William Scholtz by phone and at the police station Wednesday for clarification were not successful.
The reported assault took place June 13 when Bybee’s son was visiting him in Amesbury, according to the District Attorney's Office. A family member then reported the incident to the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families, which alerted Amesbury police on June 14.
At that point, Scholtz contacted Massachusetts State Police detectives with the DA’s Office. That same day, Bybee was placed on paid administrative leave in line with Police Department policy.
During Bybee’s 20-year career with the department, he had never been suspended or the subject of excessive-force complaints, Scholtz said at the time.
On June 19, detectives interviewed Bybee’s son and an arrest warrant was issued, according to DA’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Kimball.
Bybee’s son told police his father “scolded and mocked” him before punching him in the face and giving him a bloody nose, according to state police documents. The report said Bybee also slammed the boy’s head against a bathroom wall three times. The son told police his father was a heavy drinker and was drinking at the time of the assault.
The boy’s story was corroborated by his younger sister, who told police she witnessed the attack and could tell that her father was drunk. The boy also reported the incidents to a DCF representative at his high school.
In addition to spending three years as a school resource officer, Bybee was one of a rotating number of officers who served in the department’s detective unit. Bybee stepped down as school resource officer in 2017 but Scholtz said it was not related to criminal conduct.