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CMPD officer pleads not guilty in assault

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police recruiting officer has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after he allegedly smashed a beer bottle against the head of another player during a Thanksgiving Day poker game in Massachusetts.

Dan Tran, 31, of Charlotte, pled not guilty on Monday to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a bottle) and assault and battery, according to the Lowell Sun.

He was released on his own recognizance after his defense attorney argued that he was aware of his obligation to return to court as a police officer and that the incident was a case of self-defense. He's due back in court in Massachusetts on Jan. 17.

Tran has worked for CMPD since October 2004. He works for the recruiting division and makes $53,701 in salary. Police Spokesman Rob Tufano said Tran is on paid administrative leave as internal affairs investigates.

Tran answered the phone at his listed office number on Tuesday, but said he couldn't speak to a reporter until he had talked with his commanding officers.

According to the Massachusetts newspaper, Tran, the alleged victim and some friends were playing poker and drinking on Thanksgiving Day. Tran and the victim allegedly got into a fight over who should put a bottle of whiskey back into the refrigerator. The victim told police that Tran came up behind him, placed him in a choke hold and repeatedly hit him in the head with a bottle of Heineken beer.

The two men struggled on the floor. Tran allegedly struck the victim several times in the head and the victim bit Tran's hand. The other poker players eventually broke up the fight.

When police found the victim, his face was covered in blood. The victim was taken to Lowell General Hospital where staples were used to close the wound on his head, according to the paper.

According to the newspaper, Tran claimed in court documents that the victim had the whiskey bottle in his hand. Tran grabbed a beer bottle and struck the victim in the head in what he believed was an act of self-defense, court documents state.

The Lowell Sun contributed.