Three friends were riding their bikes along Turtle Creek after a night out early Saturday when, they say, a French couple in a black Volkswagen pulled up behind them and started honking. While that sounds like typical Turtle Creek driver behavior (minus the French accent), they say the motorist then became unexpectedly violent. According to the three friends, the driver first hit cyclist George Wendt (not the Cheers guy, as far as we know) with his car, knocking him off his bike and sending him to the median. With Wendt still on the ground, the male driver got out and began punching him in the eyes, the friends say.
The group didn't hear what their alleged assailant told the cops who eventually arrived, but it must have been a really convincing story, because police records indicate that the motorist was let go without an arrest or even a sobriety test.
Instead, both Wendt and his alleged assailant were cited for Class C assaults, a misdemeanor. "The incident was between two individuals, both were involved in mutual fight, that's why both are suspects," DPD public information officer Juan Fernandez said in an e-mail Sunday.
Wendt thinks he got punched six or seven times before his friend Elle Natchke tried to intervene. Instead of stopping, the angry Frenchman punched Natchke in the face too, they say. Photographs that the cyclists posted online from the night of the assault show heavy bruising on Natchke's and Wendt's face. But without outside witnesses, the DPD wasn't convinced. So instead they just accused everyone of assault. "Due to the officers did not observe the alleged assault / offense involving both suspects and not having a third party witness present, officers advised to issue each suspect a Class C assault," says the police narrative.
During the fighting, the third friend, Ying Li, says she ran into the
backseat driver's seat of the Volkswagen, where the alleged assailant's wife was sitting on the passenger side. Li took pictures and says she tried to grab the keys from the ignition to keep the couple from fleeing. The friends say other people standing by eventually restrained the man from punching Wendt and Natchke. But those witnesses left after the paramedics arrived and the cyclists say they never got their contact information.
Dallas cops arrived on Turtle Creek after the paramedics left. "Both suspects states that they were assaulted by on another as a result of a prior undisclosed incident," says the police narrative.
Wendt, a medical student who commutes by bicycle because epilepsy prevents him from driving, says he had no idea at the time that the cop was citing him for assault too. All Wendt remembers is being presented with a piece of paper by Officer Jasper Hughes, being told to sign it and then to show up to court in three weeks. "They didn't explain what it was," Wendt says.
Because the motorist wasn't booked, the DPD won't release his name. But Li captured a photograph of his license plate, and an online service indicates the car belongs to a "Sebastian Blain" who lives in Arlington. That appears to be a misspelling of Sebastien Blain, an Arlington-based man who is the global commodities manager for Safran, a French defense contracting corporation with an office in Irving. Li, Wendt and Natchke reviewed social media photographs of Blain after getting his name from another news organization and say they recognize him as the driver of the Volkswagen. A DPD spokesman also confirmed that George Wendt and Sebastien Blain each received citations that night after we provided their names and a case number to him.
At the Safran office in Irving, a secretary who answered the phone said Blain is on vacation until January 5 and sent us to his voicemail. We also left messages for Blain and his wife on Facebook inquiring about the fight. Though they appeared to see the messages on Monday night, the couple hasn't yet responded.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.