INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 23, 2015)-- Police officers are accustomed to sitting in a courtroom, but not at the defense table in an orange jail jumpsuit and handcuffs.
That's where Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Justin Beaton found himself, in the company of Marion County Sheriff's deputies, to make his initial appearance after being charged with trying to kill his girlfriend.
Beaton's girlfriend agreed with him last summer when they both told investigators the off-duty officer smashed a bed frame through a sliding glass door and that's how the pregnant woman was injured.
She changed her version last week and said that Beaton had been drinking and attended a gun show where he bought a new weapon and fired at her as she stood on the back deck of their home smoking a cigarette, smashing the glass and severely injuring her face.
"Domestic violence victims typically change their stories," said Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Arvin. "It's not uncommon for them to give at least two versions of an event depending on where their relationship stands and how they're feeling about their own safety so it's certainly something we encounter regularly."
"This is an accident defense," said Beaton's attorney Jack Crawford. "It is our contention that everything that happened to this young woman was as a result of an accident."
Beaton's personal and professional lives have been rocky since 2010 when his house was firebombed in an unsolved arson.
Last summer a cell phone video showed Beaton and another officer subduing a combative man under the influence of drugs.
Now Beaton faces 47 years in prison and, at the very least, the loss of his ten-year career if convicted of domestic battery or the firearms related charges.
"This is an unaccustomed location for this police officer," said Crawford. "He's been a good police officer and he hopes to be one again."
"Any time a police officer is charged there is always a concern for his ability to function as a police officer and that will be a concern for Justin and I think it is to be expected."
Beaton is being held on $300,000 bond. Crawford will ask a judge Wednesday morning to reduce that bond.
He's also been ordered to not possess any guns and stay away from four women, including his girlfriend.
"We certainly have concerns for victims in a case like this," said Arvin. "We're certainly going to do everything we can to keep her safe and make sure that nothing happens to her."