NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Moments after a news conference in which New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger apologized to the citizens of the county for "erratic behavior," deputies served him with a protective order from his ex-girlfriend.
Berger called the conference to apologize to citizens of New Hanover County and the Wilmington Police Department. Berger also reiterated that he has no plans to resign from office after a couple of weeks of well-publicized incidents involving his ex-girlfriend.
"I am sincerely sorry they were exposed to any of those events of my erratic behavior during that time," Commissioner Brian Berger said from the New Hanover County Government Center.
The police went to Berger's home last week after his ex-girlfriend Heather Blaylock called them, claiming Berger was threatening to hurt himself. Police took Berger to the hospital after observing cutting wounds to his arm.
"I am very happy," Berger said Thursday night. "I am not suicidal. Let me put that to bed. I did not try to kill myself."
Berger emailed Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous to question the report and the facts as they were posted. Berger said he did not mean for that situation to paint Evangelous and the department in a bad light.
"I had no intention whatsoever of demeaning or casting doubt on the integrity and honesty of Chief Evangelous and staff," Berger said.
Wednesday, fellow commissioners Jonathan Barfield, Jason Thompson, Rick Catlin and Ted Davis publicly called for Berger's resignation.
Berger also addressed that issue saying, "It's unfortunate they feel that way because obviously I would like to be appreciated and respected by my colleagues."
Berger went on to say that no one said a word after other commissioners were involved in incidents threatening violence on others. The reference apparently refers to a public incident between Commissioner Thompson and Leland Mayor Walter Futch at a transportation meeting.
"Nobody called for their resignation," Berger said.
Berger also said Commission Chairman Barfield made an "irresponsible" statement when he alluded to the fact that he was concerned for his safety.
In an exclusive interview with WECT's Frances Weller after his news conference, Berger said he wanted Heather Blaylock to think he was trying to kill himself, that he wanted to hear her say she loved him and that he had worse mosquito bites (making reference to the cuts on his arm).
The protective order served against Berger Thursday night is called a "No Contact Order," which means that Berger can not reach out to Blaylock via text, social media, phone or any other means of communication for the next ten days. Both will appear in court on September 16th, where a judge will decide whether to extinguish the order or enforce it for up to a year.
"I hope you can forgive me and give me a chance to prove to you that I am and will be in the future an effective commissioner," Berger said as he concluded his remarks.
After the news conference, Berger released a copy of his prepared remarks to WECT.com. The remarks follow in italics:
To the Wilmington Police Department I would like to say that I am sorry that my words were interpreted as an indictment against you in some way. Let me be clear - I never "accused" anyone of any wrongdoing whatsoever. I firmly believe that Chief Evangelous does a wonderful job for the people of Wilmington, and I told him exactly that in person. Merely asking for an explanation of the details contained in the police report, so that I can better understand, is in no way an indictment of wrongdoing; and is every citizen's right.
I would like to address my lack of speaking on these issues at Tuesday night's meeting. My personal issues are not official items of county business, and it would not have been appropriate for me to take time away from the people's county commission to address my personal life. If any citizen had stepped forward and addressed this in front of the body, I would have talked about it then. Other than that, I believed that we were there to handle the business of the people of New Hanover County.
If asking for my resignation is valid given certain personal issues coming to light, then how is it not valid asking for the resignation of commissioners who have threatened physical violence against others, such as the duly elected mayor of Leland? Several other threats and acts of aggression have been documented concerning other commissioners in meetings and in private. Yet, it is I who is being asked to resign. Why is there a double standard? If we are to apply a standard of excellence to this board as the Chairman stated, why doesn't it apply to all commissioners?
I have made some stupid and foolish choices, as I'm sure we all have at some point. In hindsight, that is clear - and I am sorry. The constant public hand-wringing about this being a distraction IS the distraction in large part, and I am prepared to get my personal life in order, and continue serving the good people of New Hanover County to the best of my abilities.
I also want to address the fact that Chairman Barfield alluded to some fear of retribution or violence against him or his family from me. I believe that this was an attempt to further malign my character, and had no basis in reality. The facts speak for themselves that I am not a commissioner with a track record of physical aggression towards others.
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