“She’s afraid for her life:” Milwaukee fire captain accused of strangling, beating his girlfriend

Leon Butts

MILWAUKEE -- A high-ranking Milwaukee firefighter is in jail, facing several domestic abuse charges after he allegedly beat and strangled his live-in girlfriend.

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

He's facing the following charges:

  • Misdemeanor battery (two counts)
  • Strangulation and suffocation
  • Stalking resulting in bodily harm

Jail orange is not what Leon Butts is used to wearing. 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.

Leon Butts

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."

Leon Butts

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."

"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.

"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.

Leon Butts

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.

Leon Butts