On February 1, 2000, a man struck my video camera with a hammer while I accompanied a German film crew in Clearwater. This man identified himself to the police as Richard Bernard.
It was later found out the that he gave the police a wrong name, birthdate and social security number and had jumped bail on a serious drug charge.
This attack led to his arrest on those charges.
Stacy Brooks filed this report to alt.religion.scientology.
February 1, 2000
This morning Mark Bunker went with German film maker Peter Reichelt and Hans Michael Kassel, director of documentary film for the German TV station ARD, to Gottfried Helmwein’s house on Palm Bluffs Road, about a mile and a half north of 33 N. Ft. Harrison. Gottfried is a Scientology artist in Germany who has apparently been denying he is a Scientologist, and Peter and Hans Michael were here gathering documentary footage to prove he is an active Scientologist.
Peter asked Mark to go with them to Gottfried’s house so Mark could video them walking up to the door of the house and knocking on the door. They had consulted with Wayne Shuler, the Clearwater Police Public Affairs Officer, about what they could and could not legally do, and they followed his direction to the letter.
As Mark was videotaping, a man ran out of Gottfried’s house and assaulted Mark with a hammer. He hit Mark’s camera twice but luckily did not hurt Mark, although Mark was extremely frightened and shaken when this man ran at him and struck him with a dangerous weapon. Fortunately Mark was able to get the assault on videotape and it will be available on Xenu-TV in about an hour.
The man then went back into the front door of Gottfried’s house, and soon after that two police officers arrived. One of them, Officer Holsombach, works for the Church of Scientology at the white lines on Watterson Avenue as a paid gun to harass the staff of the Lisa McPherson Trust in his off hours. Mark spoke to the other one, Officer Kelly, and told him that a man had just assaulted him with a hammer and asked the officer if he wanted to see it on videotape. But Officer Kelly ignored what Mark was telling him. Instead, he asked Mark if he had informed the man that he was audiotaping him. Taken aback by the question, Mark replied that he had not. Then Officer Kelly told Mark that he was going to arrest him for audiotaping the hammer-wielding man without his knowledge!
At that point Mark called me and told me he was about to be arrested. I jumped in my car and went down to Gottfried’s house. When I got there I saw two police cars and Mark, Peter and Hans Michael with the two police officers. There was also another elderly man that I didn’t know. He turned out to be a groundskeeper for the Helmvein property.
I approached Mark, but Officer Kelly told me to stay away. He was extremely unpleasant and I was afraid he really was going to arrest Mark. He was writing a report, and I saw that his hand was shaking uncontrollably. He was obviously extremely distraught.
Peter was trying to talk to Officer Kelly but I could see that it was just getting him more and more aggravated and upset, so I told Peter to be quiet and let this police officer calm down, otherwise Mark was going to be arrested. The atmosphere was very highly charged and I was very worried about how Mark was going to be treated by these officers. They were obviously biased against Mark because they were doing nothing to apprehend the man who had assaulted Mark. Officer Kelly told Mark he knew he was part of LMT, and he asked the two Germans if they were also part of LMT.
Fortunately within a few minutes Sergeant John Zegzdryn arrived on the scene. I have had dealings with Sergeant Zegzdryn before and know that he is a fair, unbiased police officer. I was greatly relieved when he arrived.
Officer Kelly conferred with Sergeant Zedzdryn and then beckoned for Mark, Peter and Hans Michael to go across the street to talk to him. I started to cross with them but Officer Kelly rudely ordered me to stay away. I stopped but was still able to hear what he was saying to them. He told them that he could arrest them right then and there and that they better not go anywhere near the particular property again or he would arrest them. He then had the groundskeeper officially notify them that they were trespassing and that they were not wanted there.
As Officer Kelly was telling them that they could be arrested, he was addressing his comments particularly to Mark. When the groundskeeper gave them the official warning, he wasn’t concerned about Mark at all and directed his statement to the two Germans who had actually walked up to the door of the house, while Mark had stayed on the public sidewalk. But Officer Kelly was pointedly directing his communication to Mark.
Then Officer Kelly released them and told them they were free to go.
This was apparently all that was going to be done until Mark protested that nothing had been done about the man who had assaulted him with the hammer.
Then Sergeant Zegzdryn called Officer Kelly across the street again and he then approached Mark to see if he wanted to file a complaint about the man with the hammer. Sergeant Zegzdryn was the first one who was willing to watch the videotape of the assault. Officer Kelly hadn’t even been interested in looking at it. Mark said absolutely yes, he wanted the man arrested. The officers then spent time taking reports from everyone who had been there, and Mark repeated several times that he wanted the man arrested. But the police officers then told us that they were not going to arrest the man, that they were going to refer the matter to the state attorney’s office.
We argued with the sergeant about this at length, but in the end that was his decision. He did allow Mark to make a copy of the videotape though. Sergeant Zegzdryn brought the original videotape to our office and witnessed Mark making a copy of the part of the tape that showed the assault. Jesse and I were also witnesses, because Sergeant Zegzdryn was concerned that there could be questions about whether the tape had been altered. But I called Denis deVlaming, our criminal attorney, and he said to have the sergeant witness the dubbing and that would suffice. So that is what we did.
Bob has already spoken to Doug Crowe in the state attorney’s office and made it clear that we expect aggravated assault charges against this man.
I’ve just found out that the man who assaulted Mark with the hammer is named Richard Bernard.