Lawyers point fingers in O'Neal fight - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Lawyers point fingers in O'Neal fight

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Posted: Wednesday, February 7, 2007 1:49 pm | Updated: 7:32 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

LOS ANGELES - A battle between Ryan O'Neal and his son Griffin that led to the actor's arrest at his Malibu home last weekend turned into a war of words in law offices Wednesday as their attorneys each charged that the other side was responsible for the fight in which a fireplace poker was swung and a gun fired.

Griffin O'Neal, 42, and his pregnant girlfriend, Joanna Berry, who had bandages around a bruised and swollen left eye, appeared but did not speak at a press conference by attorney Gloria Allred.

"We vigorously reject any assertion that the injuries suffered by Joanna and Griffin were as a result of Ryan O'Neal's acting in self defense," Allred said in a prepared statement.

The actor's attorney, Mark Werksman, countered quickly.

"Ryan O'Neal is the victim and was attacked by his own son, with his own poker," said Werksman, who noted his client had a cut on his hand and bruises on his arms and legs as a result of the dispute.

Werksman said O'Neal's other son, Redmond, was in the house at the time and the fight occurred over how Griffin has treated Redmond. Werksman said Redmond is currently in drug treatment.

Werksman called the incident "another chapter in his (Griffin's) chaotic and turbulent life."

Berry, who is expecting a baby boy at the end of March, suffered facial lacerations that took eight stitches to close, as well as head trauma and a corneal abrasion during the confrontation, Allred said.

Ryan O'Neal, who was arrested for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm, has said he fired a "warning shot" to scare his son away after he came at him with the poker. He said his son struck Berry, 25, with the poker when he ducked during the fight.

Sheriff's officials said they hope to present the O'Neal case to the district attorney's office by Friday. County prosecutors will review the findings to decide whether charges should be filed.

Allred said her clients would not speak to reporters because they may be called to testify if a criminal case is filed.

Asked if Griffin O'Neal was under the influence of drugs the night of the fight, Allred said he was not.

Werksman said he and his client believe Griffin O'Neal was drunk at the time and became violent when his father asked him to leave. The attorney added that his client was sober at the time of the incident.

Allred declined to answer questions about whether a civil lawsuit will be filed, but Werksman said Ryan O'Neal financially supports his son.

The O'Neals' problems have a long history.

In 1983, police came to a home after a fight in which the elder O'Neal knocked out two of Griffin's teeth. No charges were filed but the younger O'Neal soon after entered a drug rehabilitation center in Hawaii.

Griffin O'Neal was found guilty of reckless boating in a 1986 accident that killed Gian-Carlo Coppola, son of film director Francis Ford Coppola, and got an 18-day jail sentence for not performing 400 hours of community service as ordered.

He pleaded no contest to drunken driving in 1989 and was sentenced to probation. In 1992, he avoided a possible three-year jail sentence by pleading no contest to charges he shot at an estranged girlfriend's unoccupied car. He agreed to spend a year in a live-in drug rehabilitation program and serve five years' probation.

Berry's first name and age provided by Allred were different from those reported by authorities. Sgt. Ken Scheurn at the Malibu sheriff's station said their records list her as JoAnne Berry, 22.

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