Man claims deputy assaulted him while on public beach

Man claims deputy assaulted him while on public beach

The man, who was at a public beach area off Malibu Road with his wife and daughter, said the deputy threatened to arrest him for trespassing. However, he said he was on public beach.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station is investigating an accusation by a Beverlywood man that a Sheriff’s deputy physically assaulted him and illegally threatened to arrest him when he was with his family on the public portion of the beach off Malibu Road.

Jean Philippe Chabassier said in an interview this week that on the afternoon of May 7, he was relaxing on a public portion of the beach with his wife, Catherine, and 10-year-old daughter when a man (Chabassier said he did not know the man’s name) yelled from a Malibu Road home that they were on private property. Chabassier’s wife soon left the area for an unrelated reason. The man in the Malibu Road home later demanded Chabassier leave and threatened to call the Malibu/Lost Hills Station.

Not long after, Chabassier said, Deputy Wayne Watts from Lost Hills appeared and yelled, “Hey dude, I need to talk to you.” Chabassier said when he did not walk over to Watts, the deputy said, “If you don’t come here right now, I’m going to arrest you.”

Chabassier said he then called his wife to return to the scene and called the Lost Hills station. He said Lt. John Benedict picked up the phone.

Chabassier said Watts grabbed his arm and demanded he hang up the phone. Chabassier did not obey the command, but his wife eventually took the phone. Chabassier said his daughter was crying throughout the ordeal.

After that, Chabassier said Watts “grabbed my finger and twisted my arm in my back very strongly.” Chabassier said Watts then put his hands together as if to cuff them, but did not.

According to Chabassier’s story, Watts then told Chabassier, who is a French citizen (although he has lived in the United States for 15 years), “You’re not in France; you have to obey the law.”

Watts then pushed Chabassier forward, Chabassier said, causing him to fall on his knee. Chabassier said he was then placed in the Sheriff’s vehicle.

Chabassier said he was told he would be arrested. “I was scared. I was thinking I was going to jail.”

Chabassier said Watts eventually let him go after being told to do so by his superiors at the Lost Hills station.

A message was left for Watts on Tuesday, but not immediately returned.

Lt. Benedict from the Malibu/Lost Hills station said in an interview this week that an “administrative investigation” was being conducted, and he did not know how long it would take. He said Watts would be working throughout the investigation. Benedict acknowledged he received a call from Chabassier’s cell phone while the alleged incident was occurring.

The day after the alleged incident, Chabassier called the Lost Hills station and City Hall. He said he received an apology from Lost Hills Captain Tom Martin. Martin was not in the office when The Malibu Times called for comment. Chabassier said he also received an apology from City Manager Jim Thorsen.

Thorsen said in an interview this week, “I mentioned that there’s always two sides to the story and heard his side of the story. I offered my apology if there were any wrongdoings.”

Chabassier said he felt terrible for several days after the incident. “I was stressed. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to leave the country.”

Chabassier’s wife is working on an educational diplomatic mission for the French Embassy in Washington D.C. Chabassier said the Los Angeles French Consulate was contacted and has offered to help with the situation, but it is still being determined what the officials there can do.

Chabassier has also consulted with California Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan and Steve Hoye of the nonprofit group Access for All, two major activists for public beach access in Malibu.

Chabassier said on Tuesday he confirmed through researching Coastal Commission maps that he was on public property on May 7.

When asked if he had hired an attorney, Chabassier said he did not want to answer the question.

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

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