Jury Finds French Defense Contractor Accused of Punching Cyclists Not Guilty (Updated)

Sebastian Blain, the French defense contractor who was charged with assaulting two bicyclists on Turtle Creek Boulevard late last year, was found not guilty by a jury this month, court records show. At his trial, Blain testified that he was acting in self-defense, according to his attorney. 

George Wendt and his friends told police about a bizarre case of road rage that happened late last year. They said Blain had been honking at Wendt and his friends as they were riding their bikes on Turtle Creek. Then, for no reason, Blain hit Wendt with his car, the cyclists said. When Wendt was still on the ground, Blain got out of the car and began punching him, Wendt alleged. Wendt's friend Elle Natchke tried to intervene but said Blain punched her, too. Both Natchke and Wendt had visible bruises on their faces shortly afterward.

Police initially didn't seem to take the accusations seriously — the cops on the scene that night gave both Wendt and Blain low-level citations and didn't test Blain for sobriety. "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 parties. 

But in January, Natchke filed a separate police report after going to the hospital and getting diagnosed with a broken nose. After that, police toughened the charges. The detective filed two misdemeanor assault charges against Blain, and Wendt's citation was dismissed.

How Blain was allegedly acting in self-defense isn't yet clear—his attorney Ashkan Mehryari did not want to provide more details about what Blain's exact testimony was. Mehryari added that some of the jurors were so moved by Blain's story that they hugged him after the trial and apologized on behalf of Americans. 

UPDATE: Blain's attorney agreed to provide details from his client's testimony. He says that the fight was provoked by the cyclists. He says that Wendt rode his bike into Blain's car, so Blain pulled over to show him the damage. Mehryari sent us these photographs to show the damage that he says the bike inflicted on the car.
When Blain stepped out of the car, his attorney claims, Wendt then charged Blain with his bicycle. "My client pulled over, put the car in park, took his seatbelt off and got out of the car. Wendt intentionally, and at a high rate of speed, rode straight into my client, which is how they ended up in the fight,"  Mehryari writes in an email. "Wendt punched my client as well, during the scuffle." Mehryari says photographs of his client's injuries were submitted into evidence at trial, but that Blain would not allow him to send those images to us. 

Blain then struck Natchke, Wendt's friend who got a broken nose. Like Wendt, Natchke had visible bruising on her face after the fight. Mehryari claims that Blain hit her in self-defense because she jumped on his back. "He didn't punch her, he elbowed her in the face," Mehryari says.  He says the cyclists spit blood on Blain's car and on his wife's jacket, and he provided us with photographs of blood stains on the car.  "There are no pictures of where they spit on his wife because she immediately washed her jacket," Mehryari writes. 

Though no sobriety tests were done by police on the scene, Mehryari blames alcohol for Wendt's behavior. "By his own testimony, Wendt had a lot to drink, crashed his bicycle into a [different] stopped car and then couldn’t remember if he got ran over by a car," he writes.