Were Gibson’s Remarks Hushed Up? Police Face Probe
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
LOS ANGELES — A sheriff’s spokesman has defended the handling of Mel Gibson’s drunken driving arrest in Malibu, Calif., amid allegations the department covered up anti-Semitic remarks reportedly made by the actor-director as he was being taken into custody.
The allegations stemmed from a leaked arrest report that quoted Mr. Gibson as saying, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” and asking a deputy, James Mee, “Are you a Jew?”
“This case is going to go to the district attorney,” a sheriff’s spokesman, Steve Whitmore, told reporters yesterday at sheriff’s headquarters. “In that case file will be his statement, will be our report, will be everything pertinent to his blood-alcohol level. We have done our job.”
Mr. Whitmore said county prosecutors will decide the next step after a review of the case but that the sheriff’s department was “convinced because of our investigation and because of his own self-illuminating statement that he will be convicted of driving under the influence.”
The mug shot taken of Mr. Gibson when he was booked was not released. Mr. Whitmore said the case investigator would decide when to release it.
Mr. Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, would not elaborate beyond an apology that Mr. Gibson issued Saturday, in which the star admitted he uttered “despicable” things to deputies during his arrest but made no mention of anti-Semitic remarks.
The county’s Office of Independent Review, a civilian panel of attorneys that monitors the sheriff’s department and allegations of misconduct, has opened an investigation into whether authorities tried to cover up Mr. Gibson’s alleged inflammatory comments, its chief attorney, Mike Gennaco, said.
“Assuming that the report was excised, then the question is ‘Was it done for a good reason within regulations?'” he said.
Mr. Gibson, dressed in a sheriff’s uniform, has filmed public service announcements for Sheriff Lee Baca’s relief committee, the Star Organization, which raises scholarships for children of department employees. Mr. Gibson donated $10,000 to it, Mr. Whitmore said.
Asked if the sheriff’s department extended special consideration to Mr. Gibson because of that relationship, Mr. Whitmore said: “Absolutely not.”
Mr. Gibson was arrested after deputies stopped his 2006 Lexus LS 430 for speeding at 2:36 a.m. on Friday. Mr. Whitmore said deputies clocked him doing 87 mph in a 45 mph zone.
A breath test indicated Mr. Gibson’s blood-alcohol level was 0.12%, Mr. Whitmore said. In California, a driver is legally intoxicated at 0.08%.
Mr. Gibson posted $5,000 bail and was released hours later.
In his statement, Mr. Gibson said he has struggled with alcoholism and taken steps “to ensure my return to health.”
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, called Mr. Gibson’s apology “unremorseful and insufficient.”
One press and broadcast expert said Mr. Gibson irreparably damaged his career with his “crazy” behavior following his arrest.
“It’s a nuclear disaster for him,” a publicist, Michael Levine, said. Mr. Levine has represented Michael Jackson and Charlton Heston, among others.”I don’t see how he can restore himself,” he said.