Skylar Peak responds to charges

The city councilmember says charges of battery, vandalism and erratic behavior are blown out of proportion, and plans to file complaints against his accusers. But the head of the security company at Point Dume Plaza says that Peak was causing a chaotic scene and defended his security guards.

By Knowles Adkisson / Associate Editor

A sheriff’s department investigation remains ongoing into a late-night altercation on Wed., July 11 when Point Dume Plaza security guards allege Malibu City Councilmember Skylar Peak threatened them with a scissor blade after they confronted him for yelling and tossing chairs in the shopping center’s patio area. Peak, 28, was later taken into police custody and spent five days at a county hospital while undergoing an involuntary 72-hour psychological evaluation.

In two separate interviews with The Malibu Times, Peak said initial reports of the incident were misleading and blown out of proportion. Peak also confirmed he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in early May, and that he is taking medication and attending therapy more than once per week.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Steve Whitmore said security guards at Point Dume Plaza told the department that around 10:45 p.m. on Wed., July 11 Peak ran through the parking lot in a Speedo swimsuit, screaming and overturning chairs in the patio area of the center. When the guards confronted Peak, they allege he threatened them with a pair of separated scissors. One security guard told deputies that Peak tried to stab him with the separated scissor blade. Peak then left and returned to his residence nearby in Point Dume Club, and the guards called the sheriff’s department. Sheriff’s deputies arrived later that evening and placed Peak in handcuffs after taking a report from the guards of “battery and brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner.” He was taken to Del Amo Hospital in Torrance, where he underwent an involuntary 72-hour psychological evaluation. He was discharged the following Tuesday.

Peak maintains that the situation has been mischaracterized in media reports and that his rights were violated by the security guards.

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Earlier on the evening of July 11, Peak said he had been riding his jet ski off the eastern side of Point Dume when a length of rope became entangled in the watercraft’s intake. Peak said he went back to his house and returned to the beach with a pair of Cutco scissors, which are kitchen utensils with blades that separate for cleaning. Peak said he bodysurfed and swam as part of a workout, then cleared some of the intake with the scissors and rode around on the jet ski before it bogged down again near Escondido Beach.

This time the scissors were not long enough to reach the rope, which was tangled far into the intake valve, Peak said. He began to run back toward his home in Point Dume Club to get a tool to clear the intake valve, wearing only a Speedo swimsuit.

“I was going to get in my car, get a long blade and go back to the jet ski,” Peak said.

When Peak arrived at the Point Dume Plaza shopping center, which is adjacent to the Point Dume Club neighborhood, accounts of what happened next diverge. Security guards at the center, according to the security company, maintain that Peak was causing a chaotic scene for an extended period of time, which Peak denies.

In an initial interview with The Malibu Times on Friday, Peak said that he cut his foot on some glass and accidentally knocked over a chair in the center’s patio area while running, causing him to cry out. He also said that he was “[horsing] around. I was making noise,” although he did not elaborate. When asked to specify in a second interview Monday, Peak declined comment, citing advice he had been given regarding the ongoing investigation.

Shawn Nowrooz, CEO of State Organizations, Inc., which provides security to the Point Dume Plaza shopping center, recounted the security company’s version of events to The Malibu Times in a telephone interview Tuesday. Nowrooz was not at the shopping center himself on July 11. He said he received a written report from two of his employees, a security guard and a supervisor, who were present at the scene that evening.

Nowrooz said that according to the report he received from his employees, Peak appeared at the shopping center at 10:45 p.m. that evening.

Nowrooz said the company had provided security at the center for many years, and according to the written report provided to him by the security guards, it appeared Peak “was not in his right mind that evening.”

Nowrooz said the guards reported that Peak was wearing a Speedo swimsuit with separated scissor blades hanging from each side of his swimsuit. The guards reported he was running around, screaming, jumping off cars, throwing shopping carts around and pushing shopping carts into cars.

According to the report by the guards, Nowrooz said the guards approached Peak to try to calm him down and distract him, but were unsuccessful and that Peak waved and pointed one of the scissor blades at them. One guard reported that Peak attempted to stab him, Nowrooz said.

Peak said he ran away from the guards after they confronted them. He dismissed the charge that he attempted to stab the guard, and said the guards pursued him onto Heathercliff Road, which he said was against the law because the guards are only contracted to patrol the shopping center premises.

“I would never try to stab you,” Peak said. “I’m going to stop you from chasing me to my house.”

Once on Heathercliff Road, Peak said he was pushed twice in the chest by one security guard, whom he intends to file a complaint against with the sheriff’s department. Peak said his lawyer also intends to file a cease and desist letter against Nowrooz, whom he says has defamed him in media reports by speaking about an incident at which he was not present.

Nowrooz confirmed that the company’s guards are not allowed to pursue anyone off of the property they are contracted to patrol, and said according to the report filed by the guards they went off the property to observe where Peak was running to. Nowrooz said the guards witnessed Peak running down Heathercliff Road to the Point Dume Club neighborhood.

Regarding Peak’s allegation that the guard pushed him, Nowrooz said the guard made no indication in the report that he pushed Peak, but said if it did occur then the guard was justified in doing so.

“[Peak] was in no right state of mind, first of all,” Nowrooz said. “But that never occurred, that’s not in any report. I’m sure he’s going to think up a lot of stuff.”

“Second of all, even if that was the case, they had the right to do so much more, because as I mentioned he’s running around with a deadly weapon. When you have a pair of scissors broken in half, you’re running around, swinging it around and pointing it at people, that’s cause for security to do their job and to slam him on the floor and have him arrested ASAP. So, if that was the case they had perfect rights legally to do so,” Nowrooz said.

Nowrooz said the guards witnessed Peak run down Heathercliff and past the gated entrance to the Point Dume Club neighborhood where, according to his report, a security guard at the guard gate unsuccessfully tried to stop him.

The Malibu Times contacted Point Dume Club seeking to speak to the security guard, but representative Deborah Miller declined comment.

Peak said he returned to his residence in the neighborhood, where he changed into a white T-shirt and khaki shorts. Soon three or four patrol cars showed up, he said, with six to eight deputies.

One of the deputies came up to the front porch of Peak’s residence, where Peak told the deputy his account of the altercation at Point Dume Plaza, and mentioned he had been dealing with personal issues regarding his family. After further discussion he was handcuffed and driven to Del Amo Hospital in Torrance for an involuntary 72-hour psychological evaluation.

Peak says he was not informed that he was being taken to the hospital until after he was in the car.

Sheriff’s Department officials declined to comment specifically on the matter, citing an ongoing investigation and privacy issues with Peak under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

“It’s being investigated, we’re getting both sides of the story, and we’re going to send it to the district attorney’s office when we conclude our investigation,” Captain Joe Stephen of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station told The Malibu Times Monday.

Peak said he arrived at Del Amo around midnight Wednesday or early Thursday morning.

“I went in with nothing. No money. No ID. All I had was my phone and my lithium,” Peak said, referring to the medication he is taking to treat his diagnosed illness of bipolar disorder.

Peak said a Los Angeles Department of Mental Health psychiatrist analyzed him for five or 10 minutes per day for three days.

After the 72-hour mandatory evaluation period had expired, Peak said he was unable to leave because his psychological evaluation had to be processed, which he said could not be done over the weekend. He said his psychological evaluation was completed on Monday, and processed Tuesday, when he was discharged and picked up shortly after 2 p.m. by his sister.

Peak said he believed the 72-hour involuntary hold was placed because of the testimony of the security guard who alleged Peak threatened him with the scissor blade. Peak maintains the claim is “ridiculous.”

The Malibu Times requested a copy of the police report for the incident, but sheriff’s officials say the report has been combined in a “master file” with the psychological evaluation and is not available to media requests under HIPAA privacy laws pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

In April the 27-year-old Peak became the youngest person ever elected to the Malibu City Council, leading all candidates with 1,466 votes. He made national headlines in 2008 when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a paparazzo attempting to photograph actor Matthew McConaughey while surfing near Point Dume.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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