NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Commissioner Brian Berger wrote a letter to Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous accusing the police department of releasing false reports.
According to police, the county commissioner was taken to the hospital Monday night with minor injuries from a razor. Sources say the commissioner attempted suicide, but Berger said that's not accurate.
According to police and EMS, Heather Blaylock called them to the commissioner's house and said she did not want to get involved. Blaylock said Berger had guns and possibly a knife in the house.
"He has two guns upstairs in his study," she told 911 operator.
The 911 operator was told Berger sent the caller text messages saying he's going harm himself and then sent a picture.
"I can't tell, it might be his arms," the caller said. "I know he's cut his arms in the past."
According to police, one of the text messages sent reads: You'll never have to worry about me ever again. I'm sorry.
When officers arrived at Berger's home, the commissioner initially refused to go to the door. Police were able to get him to go outside after about 15 minutes. According to the police report, Berger appeared to be somewhat incoherent when officers arrived, repeating he was fine.
The responding officer told Berger to pull up his shirt sleeves, which exposed two small cuts to his inner left elbow and gauze wrapped around a cut to his left wrist.
"Berger stated that he cut himself during the night intentionally," the police report reads. "He stated he has been depressed since his recent arrest and has been on anti-depressants."
The police report said the commissioner was reluctant to be taken to the hospital, saying he didn't want the incident leaked into the media. After further discussion, police gave Berger the option to go with EMS voluntarily or forcefully on commitment papers. According to the report, Berger chose to go to the hospital on the condition they didn't alert the media.
According to the police report, officers spotted and seized a .40-caliber rifle that was resting against the wall between his bedroom and office.
"Berger state that he loaded the rifle tonight but was not going to do anything," the police report read.
Wednesday, Berger wrote an email to Chief Ralph Evangelous saying police are releasing false information to the media.
"A superficial cut, while not good or something to be proud of can't possibly constitute attempted suicide when a firearm is readily available and would be the logical choice in the event someone intended to commit suicide," Berger wrote in the email to Evangelous.
Berger said in the email that he never even had "a sip of a wine cooler or any other alcoholic beverage within a week of Monday evening, possibly longer." He also said he was not using illegal drugs.
"How can something so false be ‘reported' as having occurred and provided to media, the public and internally," Berger questioned in his email.
In his email to Evangelous, Berger said Blaylock has a history of lying and giving false information in 911 calls and to authorities. He said she's not completely dishonest, but on occasion has manipulated information to "create a false sense of realty for others."
In response to Berger's email, Evangelous has issued the following statement:
"We don't mischaracterized and we don't lie. We're here to serve and protect the community."
Berger told WECT Tuesday that he did not try to commit suicide and that he's not injured, despite what the police report said. He says if anything, he's emotionally wounded and this all stems from and incident with Blaylock in June.
Earlier this summer Berger was charged with assault on a female for a verbal altercation with Blaylock, his former fiance. Blaylock told officials the commissioner ripped the door handle off her car during an argument. The assault charges against Berger were dropped a few days later.
Berger said he plans to continue his job as county commissioners. Some of his fellow commissioners declined to comment on the incident.
READ BERGER'S EMAIL:
Dear Chief Evangelous,
I know this is probably below your pay grade, but setting aside all other issues as open to interpretation, the following statements and their "public" status, is full of false information that is difficult to excuse as accurate-but-misinterpreted by the press and media. Other information could perhaps be open to interpretation...but these statements are simply false and putting aside heather's disorder, behavior on my part that I'm not proud of, etc...nobody was in any danger at any time. But assuming the "risk" was unknown, and setting that aside, temporarily, I would like an explanation as to why some of the falsehoods in the press originated in WPD documents:
".... was taken by EMS Monday night to New Regional Medical Center for an attempted suicide.
Because of medical privacy laws, the medical problem is blanked out of the New Hanover County 911 event report. But a police report shows that officers were called to his home for an attempted suicide. The report indicates that he had a "minor" injury from a razor. According to Wilmington police, Berger was using drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident at 11:40 p.m. Monday and had a .40-caliber pistol and ammunition.
A superficial cut while not good or something to be proud of can't possibly constitute attempted suicide when a firearm is readily available and would be the logical choice in the event someone intended to commit suicide.
At no time did I consume even a sip of a wine cooler or any other alcoholic beverage within a week of Monday evening, possibly longer. There were no illegal drugs or substance abuse contrary to what is indicated in the Incident Report. This was communicated very clearly and the statement that "Berger was using drugs or alcohol" is not only false, but distorts the entire series of events. How can something so false be "reported" as having occurred and provided to media, the public and internally. Am I missing something or correct in assessing the damage to reputation and tainted view of what was in fact lawful conduct by stating alcohol/drugs were involved when substance abuse played no role whatsoever in what transpired?
Finally, putting aside all other statements, how and why was it reported that I had a pistol when I do not own a pistol or any handgun? It paints quite a picture, suicidal man has breakdown, armed with pistol and ammunition...a risk to self and others including responding officers and medics, but since it is false, it paints a false picture for the media to relay to the public and distort the entire incident.
I love her, don't get me wrong, but Heather has a history of compulsive lying and giving false information in 911 calls and to authorities. That doesn't mean she's being completely dishonest, but that she will on occasion manipulate information to create a false sense of reality for others, and this is well-documented. Whether it applies here or not, the repeated statements of "attempted suicide" when nothing more than superficial cuts exist, there is no bleeding or signs pointing to any escalation, and the aforementioned statements regarding substance abuse/alcohol being present and firearms/weapons has me perplexed.
I know this is below your pay grade, but please forward this to someone who can explain why the media was provided with so much false information, having the effect of creating a perception of events very different from what the actual facts would suggest to most reasonable people...
I don't mean to allege any grand conspiracies, but given yet another unfair and inaccurate (and very provable with evidence) portrayal further diminishing my credibility and reputation, to a very significant extent, I would appreciate a response (though an alternative to taking up another two hours of your time would be just fine!)
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