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Court file: Brian Statler was never asked to leave Scientology org before being shot

[Brian Statler]

Last week we learned a lot more detail about the 2019 shooting death of Brian Statler, 30, at the Scientology “Ideal Org” in Inglewood, California. We obtained evidence submitted in the Statler family’s wrongful death lawsuit by the attorneys for the Inglewood police officers who shot and killed Statler. Those officers are asking for summary judgment in order to dismiss the lawsuit, but we found a lot to question about the evidence they submitted. Namely, that Statler turned out to be unarmed.

One of the most well-known elements in the incident was that Statler had showed up to the org with a “samurai sword,” but in last week’s documents we learned for the first time that after a security official at the facility told him the sword wasn’t allowed, Statler calmly returned to his car and left it there. When police later showed up to confront him, he wasn’t armed at all. They claimed that he had taken a mysterious black object from a table, and was sitting with his hands in his pockets and refused to cooperate with the two officers. When a scuffle broke out, they claimed that Statler had got hold of one of their pistols, and so the other officer shot him dead.

Yesterday, another substantial pile of documents was filed in the case, but this time it was from the Statler family, and it only raises even more questions about why Brian Statler was shot and killed.

The first thing that jumped out at us as we looked through the filings by Statler family attorneys Neil Gehlawat and Robert Brown was that no one — not any of the Scientology employees who interacted with Statler, or even the two Inglewood police officers who arrived on the scene — ever actually asked Statler to leave the premises. Officer Jonathan Rivers testified that he told Statler that he was “free to leave,” but Gehlawat points out that the Scientology employees had asked Statler to sit in the testing area and were talking to him about what he wanted: To see his young daughter.

Another big difference from the defense account is that three Scientology employees (Paul Krynen, Stella Rezvani, and Armando Dominguez) testified that they saw Rivers approach Statler in the testing area with his gun drawn. Rivers’ own testimony was that he had not pulled out his gun.


The Scientology employees also apparently have solved the mystery of the black object Statler took off the table: It was his cell phone, Gehlawat writes, and he was not hiding it in his pocket as the police officers claimed.

Officer Rivers claims he told Mr. Statler to stop putting his hands in his pockets, because he observed Mr. Statler take an object from the table in front of him and “conceal it on his person.” Even though nothing was obstructing his view of the table (and he was three to five feet from Mr. Statler), Officer Rivers did not know what the object was that Mr. Statler had taken from the table. Mr. Krynen observed this object to be a cell phone, and recalls Officer Rivers becoming upset when Mr. Statler picked up the cell phone from the table. Shortly thereafter, Officer Rivers unholstered his firearm and pointed it at Mr. Statler, which constituted a use of force on his part. Officer Rivers claims he never unholstered his firearm, and that if he did it would be a form of escalation as opposed to de-escalation. However, Mr. Krynen. Ms. Rezvani, and Mr. Dominguez all observed Officer Rivers unholster his firearm, and (in Mr. Krynen’s case) point it at Mr. Statler. Once Officer Rivers pointed his firearm at Mr. Statler, Mr. Statler let go of the cane that he was holding that was also on the table. The “cane” looked like a walking stick. During this time, Mr. Statler said, “I’m not going to hurt anybody,” to which Officer Rivers replied, “You’re definitely not.” Mr. Statler never raised his voice and remained seated during this interaction with Officer Rivers. As of this time, Mr. Statler had not threatened or hurt anyone in the Church; in fact, he had complied with Mr. Dominguez’s request to put his sword back in his vehicle.

Gehlawat also writes that Rivers had claimed that when he arrived, an employee was frantically waving him inside, leading him to believe that Statler might be hurting someone. But surveillance footage, Gehlawat says, doesn’t support that.

Rivers was then joined by Officer Julian Baksh, and the two decided to detain Statler. It was Baksh, we learned last time, who fired the shots that killed Statler.

But the new documents confirm something that had been hinted in earlier coverage: Baksh not only shot Statler twice, but a third shot ended up injuring both Rivers and Baksh himself.

Gehlawat goes through the crucial split seconds and the various claims made by the officers.

Officer Rivers claims that as he was attempting to apply the rear-wrist lock, Mr. Statler grabbed his firearm and began to stand up. Officer Baksh thought Mr. Statler was punching Officer Rivers multiple times in his stomach with his right hand; Officer Rivers denies that Mr. Statler ever punched him. According to Officer Baksh, Officer Rivers’ gun came out of his holster and hit the ground while the officers and Mr. Statler were still on their feet. Officer Baksh observed Mr. Statler lunge forward and grab the gun; he did not see Officer Rivers try to pick up the gun after it hit the ground. After he observed Mr. Statler grab the gun, Officer Baksh pulled back on Mr. Statler and pulled himself, Officer Rivers, and Mr. Statler to the ground. When the three of them went to the ground, Mr. Statler was partially on top of Officer Baksh, while Officer Rivers was on top of Mr. Statler; Officer Rivers denies that this ever occurred. Officer Baksh then fired three shots at Mr. Statler. When Officer Baksh fired his first shot, he saw the gun in Mr. Statler’s (not Officer Rivers’) hand. After firing the first shot, Officer Baksh “assessed” for a second and then fired two more rounds, at which point he realized that Mr. Statler was not moving.

Officer Rivers claims that while the officers and Mr. Statler were falling forward, his gun came out and ended up on Mr. Statler’s right side. Both Officer Rivers and Mr. Statler had their grip on the gun, when Officer Rivers heard Officer Baksh yell “Gun” several times. Neither Mr. Krynen nor Ms. Rezvani, who were nearby in the reception area for the Church, heard anyone scream the word “Gun.” While both Officer Rivers and Mr. Statler were fighting for control of the gun, Officer Rivers heard the first gunshot, at which point the gun released from their grip and fell to the ground. At that time, Officer Rivers was able to kick the gun away; he also realized at that point that he (Officer Rivers) had been shot in the arm. As he was retrieving his gun, Officer Rivers heard the second shot. During this “struggle,” Officer Baksh shot and killed Mr. Statler, and also shot himself and Officer Rivers. Officer Rivers claims he does not know if he fired his own weapon, or if Officer Baksh or Mr. Statler shot him. Officer Baksh claims he does not know if he shot Mr. Statler and does not know if any of the bullets he fired from his firearm stuck Mr. Statler. Officer Baksh also does not know if Officer Rivers fired his firearm or if Mr. Statler shot himself or Officer Rivers. Following the shooting and before paramedics arrived on scene, Officer Baksh told Officer Rivers two to three times, “He had your gun.” The City ultimately concluded that neither Officer Rivers nor Mr. Statler ever fired a gun during the incident; rather, Officer Baksh fired three shots, two of which struck and killed Mr. Statler while the other struck and injured both Officer Baksh and Officer Rivers.

Gehlawat also notes that Statler’s DNA was found on Officer Rivers’ gun, but so was that of Rivers and Baksh, something that could be explained as “secondary transfer” and not necessarily evidence that Statler had touched the gun.

And one more detail: Last week’s documents had made several claims about Statler and drug use, but this week’s filing points out that an autopsy found that he had no drugs in his system at the time he was killed.

So, after seeing these detailed documents this week and last week, we’re still left wondering why Brian Statler showed up at the org in such an odd getup and with a sword and cane, and we also don’t know why he was asking to see his young daughter there. But testimony by the Scientology employees themselves appears to undercut what the police had testified to, and so their request for summary judgment seems, to us, anyway, to be premature.

A jury might be just what’s needed to sort this all out.



The latest from Jon Atack



Bonus items from our tipsters

Hunt down your former friends!



Source Code

“If you really know your E-Meters, go down to your local hometown detective bureau and ask to talk to the lie detector expert and talk to him for a few minutes and he starts giving you some wise, professional chitterchat. Why, you just tell him you’re a psychologist — he understands that, the man has a limited vocabulary, usually — and tell him you use these things all the time in your practice and so forth, and you’d just like to look over his setup. Well, these guys are all bugs and they will show you their setup with their blood pressure gauge and their respirators and the little meter with the cans, you know, except they don’t put them on properly and they don’t register quite right. Now, you can take the same rig and you can so baffle and astound this man, so he just practically blows his brains out. He says, ‘What have I been doing all this time!’ and so on. You can show him a murder reaction on every cop in the place. You don’t say, ‘Have you committed the murder?’ You say, ‘Have you ever killed anyone?’ And promptly, you get duhduh and the respirator goes bluh, the blood pressure indicator goes blah. You could be very cruel and simply say to the lie detector operator, ‘Obviously, your machine is out of order.’ That’s what he’ll think. He’ll have a letter off right away to the manufacturers.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 31, 1958



Avast, Ye Mateys

“Well we found the Anchor! In 50 feet of water, the search has been long — 60 to 70 hours of diving on the bottom. The reason we lost it was the NON FUNCTIONING of the K&H radar range ring, awaiting a part for weeks and not expedited. This made an exact range to the place impossible. A crane barge will pick up the Anchor this morning and get it aboard. Put the shackle on right way to — open end facing aft as the Chain goes across the winch. Then we sail.” — The Commodore, July 31, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“For such a takeover of Scientology in 1972 to succeed there were lots of people (paid by the Deep State) who introduced false data and black PR. Instead of telling us, ‘LRH was an SP,’ they say: ‘LRH said he had been Cecil Rhodes,’ or ‘LRH punished small children by putting them into the chain locker’ or ‘LRH took handfuls of colorful psycho pills.’ Is this actually true or have you read that in the mass media?”


Past is Prologue

1999: The Los Angeles Business Journal published a profile of Heber Jentzsch, President of the Church of Scientology International. “In 1967, Heber Jentzsch was singing in front of an unusually rowdy crowd in Las Vegas. In the middle of his set, a man stood up and began demanding that Jentzsch get off the stage and that the showgirls be brought in to replace him. It was at that very moment the then-32-year-old Jentzsch realized his life was heading in the wrong direction. He got in his car and headed west to Los Angeles. He went downtown to the Church of Scientology – an institution he had read about while in the Army – and turned over his life. Jentzsch, now 63, has become the president of the Church of Scientology International, which reportedly has 8 million members. As an ordained minister of the religion, he performs weddings and funerals and keeps up his study of Scientology’s tenets several hours each week. Jentzsch also helps to direct the church’s volunteer ministries and community outreach programs, a task that placed him on the front lines of the L.A. riots and Northridge earthquake.”


Random Howdy


“Hubbard should have just cut to the chase and told the clams that he had discovered that all money was infested with body thetans and that they needed to bring their filthy lucre in to Flag to be audited. He could have called it ‘The Wallet of Fire’.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for August 9. Trial tentatively scheduled for early November.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Sept 9.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for Oct 5.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing scheduled for Aug 23-27.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Joe Biden’s potential VP pick Karen Bass at a Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ event: Disqualifying?
[TWO years ago] ‘Strange Angel’ goes there, teases Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard at season end
[THREE years ago] Scientology spilling the secrets of the universe on an LA street!
[FOUR years ago] Phil and Willie Jones versus Scientology: The real story of how the billboard came to be
[FIVE years ago] Harlem gets its Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ today, and David Miscavige doesn’t want you there
[SIX years ago] Fresh DOX: Police calls to the Narconon in Fort Collins, Colorado — unedited and unread!
[SEVEN years ago] Jon Atack: Did L. Ron Hubbard want to be considered a god?
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Admits Connection to Slimy Anonymous Attack Sites — Again
[TEN years ago] Scientology Spinout: Commenters of the Week!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,378 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,883 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,403 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,423 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,314 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,621 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,489 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,263 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,593 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,067 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,383 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,949 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,868 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,036 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,617 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,878 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,916 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,629 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,154 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 509 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,684 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,235 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,384 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,704 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,559 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,678 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,034 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,337 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,443 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,845 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,717 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,300 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,795 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,049 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,158 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 31, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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