Dallas Police Toughen Charges Against French Defense Contractor Accused of Punching Cyclists
A photo of Sebastien Blain from his Google Plus profile, which has since been deleted.
In late December, two cyclists with heavy bruising on their faces said they had been punched by a random, angry motorist driving behind them on Turtle Creek Boulevard. Despite the serious accusations, the Dallas police who came to the scene that night didn't appear to try too hard to get to the bottom of what happened. Instead, they gave both the driver and one of the cyclists each a ticket for a class C misdemeanor assault, a low-level charge handled in municipal court. Then they let the driver go without a sobriety test.
"The incident was between two individuals, both were involved in mutual fight, that's why both are suspects," was the DPD's initial explanation for ticketing both the alleged assailant and one of his victims.
That the DPD would ticket a beat-up-looking person who says he got punched and run over isn't encouraging for assault victims, let alone cyclists. But now, police have switched course. Last week police decided to charge the driver with two counts of class A assault and filed the case with the district attorney's office. Meanwhile, the class C ticket against the cyclist has been dismissed.
The driver, as we reported last month, is a French citizen named Sebastian Blain who works at the Irving office of Safran, a defense contracting company. "I was not really pleased about your side of the story," Blain said when reached at his office Monday. Though he said our previous coverage of the incident was one-sided, he didn't want to discuss his version of events. "I'm at work and I don't think it's appropriate to call me at work," he said. His attorney later called us to say that Blain had no further comment.
"We're more concerned with his trial than we are the newspaper right now," said Ashkan Mehryari, Blain's attorney.
Cyclist George Wendt and the two friends riding with him that night maintain they were attacked for no apparent reason. First the driver knocked Wendt to the ground, the cyclists said, then got out of the car and punched Wendt when he was still down. When Wendt's friend Elle Natchke tried to stop the assailant from punching her friend, she says the driver turned his fists on her too.
On the night of the fight, Natchke says the DPD didn't even take a statement from her. So Natchke filed a separate police report about the incident later, after she went to the hospital and discovered her nose was broken. A detective took on the case and brought the additional charges against Blain.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.