Deputy did not want to defame star after arrest


Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
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In this photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, actor-director Mel Gibson is seen in a booking photo taken Friday.

The Associated Press
CALABASAS, Calif. - The deputy who arrested Mel Gibson on suspicion of drunk driving said Monday that he feels bad for damage to the star's reputation but hopes Gibson thinks twice before drinking and getting behind the wheel.
James Mee, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, told The Associated Press that he considered it a routine arrest and didn't take seriously any comments that Gibson made.
Gibson reportedly unleashed an anti-Semitic tirade and made other offensive comments when he was pulled over, initially for speeding, early Friday along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
He was then arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Gibson has issued a public apology for his conduct without specifying what he said or did.
"I don't take pride in hurting Mr. Gibson," said Mee, a 17-year deputy who is Jewish. "What I had hoped out of this is that he would think twice before he gets behind the wheel of a car and was drinking. ... I don't want to ruin his career. I don't want to defame him in any way or hurt him."
An official police report on the arrest substantiates claims that Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks and threatened a deputy, officials said earlier Monday.
Sheriff's Department officials sent prosecutors their case, which also says a tequila bottle was found in Gibson's car when he was pulled over.
The entertainment Web site TMZ.com had reported that the sheriff's department was considering eliminating the anti-Semitic remarks from its official report.
The report forwarded to prosecutors cites Gibson as making disparaging comments about Jews, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
TMZ reported that Gibson said, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?"
In the interview outside his home, Mee would not comment specifically on what Gibson said.
"That stuff is booze talking," the deputy said. "There's two things that booze does. It amplifies your basic personality. If you are a laid-back kind of person, just an easygoing kind of person, booze is going to amplify that and you'll be just sitting around going how it's a wonderful day.
"But, if you are a high-strung person, it's going to amplify that, and all the bad things are going to come out."
Questions were raised about whether police were covering up Gibson's remarks partly because the actor has a relationship with Sheriff Lee Baca. He has dressed in a sheriff's uniform to film public service announcements for Baca's Star Organization, a charity group that raises scholarships for children of department employees. Gibson also donated $10,000, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
A tentative arraignment date was set for Sept. 28, and a sheriff's spokesman Monday defended the department's handling of the case.
The department was "convinced because of our investigation and because of his own self-illuminating statement that he will be convicted of driving under the influence," Whitmore said.
Gibson, 50, won a best-director Oscar for 1995's "Braveheart," and starred in the "Lethal Weapon" and "Mad Max" films, among others.

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