Conflicting accounts of what led to O'Neal arrest


Accounts of who started the altercation leading to Ryan O'Neal's weekend arrest for alleged assault different sharply Monday, with the O'Neal saying he was defending himself against an enraged son and the actor's daughter claiming her father was lying.

Sheriff's deputies arrested O'Neal early Saturday at his Malibu home for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm. He was booked and released on a $50,000 bond.

The incident happened after O'Neal arrived home after dinner with a group of friends, including his former girlfriend Farrah Fawcett, according to O'Neal's manager and a friend who attended the dinner. The group had been celebrating Fawcett's 60th birthday and that she was cancer-free after four months of treatment.

In a statement, the 65-year-old actor said his son, Griffin, was at the house and began "wildly swinging a fireplace poker."

His son grazed him four or five times and "aimed at my head, I ducked, he hit his own girlfriend in the head," O'Neal said in an interview published Monday in the Los Angeles Times.

"I got a little nervous at that point and fled to my room ... and I got my gun," he said.

O'Neal said his son began to come up the stairs with the poker. "So I just fired it (the gun) into the banister, and that scared him and he fled," he told the newspaper.

Griffin's pregnant girlfriend was slightly injured in the incident, treated at a hospital and released, said O'Neal manager Neil Hassman.

Charlie Mattera, a close friend of O'Neal who had been at dinner and arrived at the house shortly after the incident, said O'Neal told him that when he got home Griffin was beating up his younger brother, Redmond.

"Griffin attacked his brother, Redmond, smashing an ashtray over his head," Mattera told The Associated Press. "Ryan walked into this and told Griffin to get out of the house. He couldn't do anything but protect himself and Redmond."

But O'Neal's daughter, Tatum, who was not present during the incident, said it was Griffin who was trying to protect Redmond.

"No matter what my dad is saying in the press, Griffin was not trying to start a fight with him," she told the program "Entertainment Tonight" Monday. "He was attempting to protect Redmond."

Hassman said Tatum had only gotten Griffin's account, since she and her father had not spoken for years.

"Tatum and her father have an extremely strained relationship at best," said Hassman. "I would be hesitant to buy into anything Tatum says about her father, or her brothers for that matter."

Griffin, 42, and Redmond, 22, could not be reached for comment. There was no listing for their phone numbers.

It wasn't immediately known when O'Neal would be arraigned. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the police report of O'Neal's arrest was not being released because the investigation was ongoing. Whitmore said he couldn't provide more details on the incident.

Hassman said O'Neal returned to the set of the TV show "Bones" despite the actor's arm being a "little sore."

The twice-divorced Ryan O'Neal, known for his boyish good looks, went from a TV soap opera to an Oscar-nominated role in "Love Story." He also appeared in films including "Paper Moon," "Barry Lyndon," "Green Ice" and "Zero Effect."

O'Neal had Griffin and Taum with his first wife, Joanna Moore. Tatum co-stared with her father in the 1973 movie "Paper Moon," for which she won an Oscar for best supporting actress. O'Neal was romantically involved with Fawcett for years. They never married but had one son, Redmond.

Griffin and Ryan have clashed before. In 1983, police were called to their home after a fight in which the elder O'Neal knocked out two of Griffin's teeth, the Times reported. No charges were filed.

Griffin was given an 18-day jail sentence for not performing 400 hours of community service ordered by the judge who found him guilty of reckless boating in the 1986 accident that killed Gian-Carlo Coppola, the son of film director Francis Ford Coppola.

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