Sheriff doesn’t find animation of bulldozer attack humorous

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict found no humor Thursday in an online animated video that depicts a May 10 bulldozer rampage that destroyed three homes and damaged another in Gales Addition, causing more than $300,000 in damage.

The video was posted by Next Media Animation of Taiwan, which was made famous in 2009 after the company produced a cartoon depicting Tiger Woods’ car crash and the reaction of his wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, The Seattle Times reported.

Barry A. Swegle, 51, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to nine charges in connection with the incident, including first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon and four counts of malicious mischief.

He remained in Clallam County jail on $1 million bail.

Authorities said the spree of destruction was prompted by a fence-related property line dispute between Swegle and neighbor Dan Davis.

Court date today

A hearing to set a trial date is scheduled for 9 a.m. today in Clallam County Superior Court.

The video can be viewed at www.peninsuladailynews.com.

“I don’t see anything humorous about it,” Benedict said of the cartoon.“I think someone is trying to make humorous something that had pretty severe repercussions. They also are making light of someone’s mental-health condition.

“I can see where some people might think it’s humorous, but I don’t.”

Benedict, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, said he has spoken with Swegle and believes he “is somewhat delusional.”

76-second video

The entire 76-second video includes a Peninsula Daily News photo of Swegle and news video from KCPQ, channel 13 in Seattle, a Fox News affiliate.

It depicts a neighborhood that is not Gales Addition and a man who looks nothing like Swegle seen at the beginning of the animation flipping an obscene finger gesture before destroying the homes, flattening a pickup truck and knocking over a power pole.

“I have no knowledge one way or the other whether he flipped anybody off,” Benedict said of the finger gesture. “I wouldn’t attest that it happened.”

Port Angeles lawyer Karen Unger, who represents Swegle, said the video is not bothersome.

“These guys are not interested in the truth,” she said. “They are interested in putting out a product to watch.

“They are there for entertainment value.”

She said it was too early in the case to determine Swegle’s mental condition at the time of the incident.

International coverage

The rampage received international media attention.

Emily Wu, Next Media Animation senior production manager, told The Seattle Times that “we look for news that people are talking about.”

The company’s writers spend up to two hours in online research for videos like those depicting what happened in Gales Addition.

“Sometimes, we do exaggerate a little bit,” Wu told the Times.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 16. 2013 5:52PM
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