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Gibson Deputy a Focus of Inquiry

A probe into how details of the actor's arrest were leaked includes seizure of a home computer, sources say.

October 13, 2006|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who detailed Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rant during the actor's arrest on drunk driving charges is now a focus of a criminal investigation over who leaked information about the incident to an entertainment website, according to sources close to the probe.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sheriff's Department investigators served a search warrant last month at the home of Deputy James Mee and seized a computer, telephone records and documents.

The department initially described Gibson's July 28 arrest as occurring "without incident." But the celebrity website obtained and released a copy of Mee's arrest report.

It described in detail Gibson's profane outbursts, attempt to escape custody and repeated threats to the arresting deputy.

In the report, Mee described Gibson's "barrage of anti-Semitic remarks" in which he said, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" before asking the deputy, who is Jewish: "Are you a Jew?"

In addition, Mee's report detailed repeated threats against Mee made by Gibson, who said he "owned Malibu" and would "get even" with the deputy.

Gibson has issued several statements apologizing for his behavior, and in an interview with ABC News this week said he was "ashamed" of his remarks about Jews.

In the furor that followed the arrest, Mee was praised by some for providing an honest account of the star's actions.

The Sheriff's Department came under criticism for placing part of Mee's report under lock and key, with some suggesting that the star was getting special treatment.

But it was never clear how got the report.

Sheriff Lee Baca ordered an investigation into the leak.

Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the sheriff, would not comment on any specifics relating to what he called "the unauthorized release of investigatory documents" in the Gibson case.

"This investigation will be thorough, and no rock will be left unturned, no avenue unchecked," Whitmore said. "The investigators will follow this wherever it leads them."

Michael Gennaco, head of the Sheriff's Office of Independent Review, also declined to comment on the investigation into the leak and allegations that Gibson got preferential treatment while in custody.

Gennaco said that leaking an arrest report could be a criminal offense if a superior told a deputy or a lower-level supervisor that the paperwork should remain confidential.

Richard Shinee, the attorney representing Mee, would not comment on the warrant.

Mee stopped Gibson in July on Pacific Coast Highway after he spotted him driving his 2006 Lexus sedan more than 85 mph. A breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol level to be 0.12%. The legal limit is 0.08%.

The star and director of such movies as "The Passion of the Christ" pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence.


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