Malibu Councilmember Peak’s legal status up in air

Contradicting its Malibu office, the downtown district attorney’s office on Tuesday said no decision has been made whether to charge City Councilman Skylar Peak with with misdemeanors related to a Christmas Day hit-and-run crash in Malibu. 

On Wednesday of last week, a spokeswoman at the Malibu D.A.’s office told The Malibu Times that Peak was charged with three misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run, vandalism and reckless driving. However, on Friday, public information officer Sandy Gibbons of the Los Angeles County D.A.’s office in downtown Los Angeles said charges were still up in the air. 

“We have not filed anything yet. Nothing has been filed with the court. That’s all I can tell you. You can check back next week,” Gibbons said Friday. 

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On Tuesday the office said nothing had changed. 

“We don’t have any information on that yet,” a spokesperson said. 

Michael Schwimer, Peak’s attorney, said he was also unsure of the case’s status. 

“I don’t know the answer. I called [the Malibu DA on Friday], and it wasn’t clear. It started out like they were saying they had [charged him], but then they were saying they hadn’t. I don’t know how else to put it,” Schwimer said. 

The Malibu office said arraignment for Peak was scheduled for March 27 at the Malibu Courthouse, but the downtown office deemed it a “due-back date,” which is the date he must appear in court for the incident. 

“If the case is filed prior to that, sometimes lawyers will advance that date or take him into court when they want to, or if it’s a misdemeanor he doesn’t even have to appear, his lawyer can do that for him,” Gibbons said. 

When asked Thursday whether misdemeanor charges could affect Peak’s position as a city councilman, city attorney Christi Hogin said Peak’s job was safe unless he is convicted. And even if convicted on misdemeanor counts, his job is not at risk so long as he was not in violation of his public duty when the crash occurred. 

“If it involves violating his or her official duties, then it could affect his office,” she said. “Whether or not any of these charges are associated with his office, it doesn’t sound like it.” 

The possible charges against Peak stem from a car accident on Christmas Day last year. 

Authorities received a 911 call on Dec. 25 at 7:05 a.m. from a witness who reported “aggressive and angry driving” on Pacific Coast Highway near Zuma Beach, according to Det. Dave Huelsen of the Malibu/ Lost Hills Sheriff ’s Station. 

Deputies responding to the scene at 7:30 a.m. found a white GMC Duramax truck registered to Peak with front-end damage and leaking fluids partially blocking the roadway near the intersection of Westward Beach Road and Zuma Bay Way, approximately two miles from Guernsey Avenue. 

The councilman was not at the scene when deputies arrived. 

“From what the witness describes the person was doing, it was reckless driving,” Huelsen said.

Peak, 28, confirmed to sheriff ’s officials that he was driving the vehicle as it headed eastbound on PCH and drove over a 411-foot stretch of yellow paddle barriers and “qwick kurb” just east of Guernsey Avenue, Huelsen said. 

Caltrans estimated the damage cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to replace 23 damaged paddles. A Caltrans spokesperson said damages are typically billed to the responsible party’s insurance company. 

In an interview with The Malibu Times in January, Peak would not comment on the specifics of the case but denied allegations of reckless driving and described the incident as a “total accident.” 

Peak, who has admitted to suffering from bipolar disorder, has been the focus of several controversies both on and off the dais since taking office last year. 

In July, Point Dume Village security guards alleged Peak ran through the shopping center parking lot in a Speedo swimsuit and threatened them with a scissor blade after they confronted him for yelling and tossing chairs in the shopping center’s patio area. He was taken into police custody that evening and spent five days at a county hospital while undergoing an involuntary 72-hour psychological evaluation following the incident. Prosecutors eventually cited insufficient evidence and opted not to press assault charges against Peak. 

In August, the Malibu City Council voted 3-2 to appoint Joan House as mayor pro tem instead of Peak. Traditionally, the person who receives the highest number of votes in the City Council election is chosen for the job. Peak received more than 1,400 votes in April while House received 1,067 votes. 

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https://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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