Ex-Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale knocked to the ground to end standoff, police video shows

Tribune Content Agency

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A husband who’d been drinking, had weapons, and may have threatened suicide. A wife with cuts and bruises who fled the house. An urgent call to police, who responded with SWAT team members and a forced take-down when the man emerged from the couple’s waterfront estate in Fort Lauderdale.

The combustible situation — combined with presidential politics of the rapid fall of President Donald Trump’s once high-flying campaign manager, Brad Parscale — unfolded before the nation on Monday through police reports, 911 audio and police video showing officers knocking a shirtless and barefoot Parscale to the ground outside his home and detained him.

Officers recovered 10 firearms from his home — including several pistols, a shotgun and rifle. He was detained for a mental health evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act.

The encounter with police started Sunday afternoon on DeSota Drive, where Parscale, 44, lives with his wife, Candice Parscale. The couple had argued, and Candice Parscale said her husband chambered a round into a pistol during a heated exchange between the two.

It’s unclear what they were arguing about, but she said she fled the house in fear and asked a real estate agent, who was about to show a nearby house, for help. The agent called the cops.

On the phone, Candice Parscale told a 911 dispatcher that she heard a gunshot shortly after exiting her home, and was afraid her husband was going to kill himself. Later, she told an officer she couldn’t be sure if it had been a gunshot, or a car backfiring.

“Oh no, did he do that? Oh my gosh, your arms, both your arms, has he been hurting you?” the real estate agent can be heard asking Candice Parscale as they wait for the police.

She also told officers that Brad Parscale had been “stressed out” over the past two weeks and had made comments about shooting himself.

Candice Parscale also said her husband drinks and “suffers from PTSD,” and had a collection of guns inside the home, police said.

“While speaking with Candace Parscale I noticed several large sized contusions on both of her arms, her cheek and forehead. When I asked how she received the bruising, Candace Parscale stated Brad Parscale hits her. When asked if he made these markings today, she claimed he did not. I continued to ask if Brad Parscale physically assaulted her in anyway today and she said no, but he did forcibly smack her phone out of her hand when she was attempting to call Brad Parscale’s father,” wrote Detective Steven Smith, misspelling her first name with a second “a” instead of an “i.”

Smith added that “it was evident that Candace Parscale could not safely be left with Brad.”

Officer Timothy Skaggs was the first to arrive at the neighbor’s house, records show. He said he witnessed bruising on Candice Parscale’s arm and face. She told him that the injuries had come from Brad Parscale, though she said she’d gotten them earlier that week.

Skaggs called Brad Parscale over a telephone, and found “Bradley’s speech was slurred as though he was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and he seemed to be crying.”

As Skaggs makes contact, body camera footage shows Candice Parscale, wearing a bathing suit and wrapped in a towel, visibly relieved that Brad Parscale hadn’t harmed himself. Skaggs then tried to get Brad Parscale to exit the house.

“Can you come outside with no weapons please?” Skaggs said.

Instead, the 6-foot-8-inch-tall man paced and raved, according to the police report.

Police converged on the neighborhood. A SWAT team arrived, along with a hostage negotiator. The standoff lasted about an hour.

But at some point, Fort Lauderdale police officer Christopher Wilson arrived on the scene. In police reports, Wilson describes himself as a “personal friend” of Brad Parscale, and it appears the bond between the two men was enough to convince the visibly agitated former Trump campaign manager to step out of his house.

As he exited, police ordered Brad Parscale — barefoot, shirtless but wearing shorts, and holding a beer — to get on the ground. He didn’t comply, so an officer used a “double-leg takedown” to knock him to the ground while other officers handcuffed him.

As they had him on the pavement, police repeatedly reassured Parscale. “Hey bud. Hey, we’ll well figure it all out, don’t worry about it,” “We’re going to get you off the ground in just a second, OK,” and “you’re OK,” among other reassuring words in the final 46 seconds of the video released by police.

Brad Parscale then was involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act, a law that allows authorities to detain a person deemed mentally unstable and a danger to themselves or others at a mental health facility for up to 72 hours.

Records show officers recovered 10 guns from inside the household, “including three long guns.”

Under the state “red flag” law, enacted after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, law enforcement can ask a court for a so-called risk protection order to seize weapons from people who are dangerous to themselves or others

Parscale, who bought several Fort Lauderdale residences in 2018 and 2019 and relocated from Texas, is a complex figure in the Trump world.

He was in charge of digital operations for the 2016 campaign, where he worked closely with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and was elevated to campaign manager for the 2020 re-election.

He used the position to become a celebrity among Trump supporters, something highly unusual for a campaign manager, a job that in more orthodox campaigns isn’t nearly so prominent. He’d become a popular figure at the president’s rallies and was a celebrity speaker at Republican gatherings.

Delivering one of the warm-up speeches just before Thanksgiving last year at a Trump rally at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Parscale assured the crowd that the president’s opponents wouldn’t be able to succeed in what he claimed were their objectives. Well before the rally began, when some people in the crowd spotted Parscale walking by, they started applauding, cheering and calling out his name.

“They are not going to take our guns,” he said. “They are not going to take our health care and give you socialized medicine. They are not going to flood our country with a bunch of illegal immigrants.”

As Biden continued leading Trump in the polls over the spring and summer, Parscale fell out of favor with Trump.

Parscale hyped a late-June Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the campaign proclaiming 1 million people requested tickets and 100,000 would show up. The event was a bust, with only about 6,200 people showing up, embarrassing the president and angering Kushner and his wife, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Meanwhile, Parscale was gaining attention for the campaign’s heavy spending and the lavish lifestyle he enjoyed while his companies benefited from Trump campaign money.

An ad in May from the anti-Trump Lincoln Project highlighted Parscale’s “$2.4 million waterfront house in Fort Lauderdale, two Florida condos worth almost $1 million each. He even has his very own yacht, a gorgeous Ferrari, a sleek Range Rover.” The Lincoln Project bought ad time on Fox News in Washington, D.C., — to ensure Trump would see the spot and it would get under his skin.

Parscale was demoted in July.

The immediate reactions to the news about Parscale Sunday evening from the presidential campaigns in the polarized election year were strikingly different.

The Biden campaign’s “war room,” which provides the campaign’s quick responses to developments, reacted with sympathy for Parscale, posting on Twitter that, “This field is tough. It takes its toll on people in unfathomable ways. Regardless of the differences we have in our beliefs, we at the Biden War Room hope that Brad Parscale is safe, is with his family, and gets everything that he needs to get better.”

The Trump campaign, in a statement professing concern for Parscale, used the incident to attack Trump’s opponents. “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible. The disgusting, personal attacks from Democrats and disgruntled RINOs have gone too far, and they should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to this man and his family,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Sunday night.

The Twitterverse was filled with hot takes Sunday night and Monday theorizing about what supposedly was the real story behind what happened.

Many people, including people with large followings, suggested a possible juxtaposition between the timing of what happened with Parscale and publication of a New York Times investigation revealing Trump paid almost no federal income taxes for most of two decades.

(Fort Lauderdale police reported the call about the Parscale incident a little after 3:30 p.m. The Times published its findings about 5 p.m.)

Others speculated it meant Parscale knew the Times investigation was just the beginning.

Amy Siskind, an activist and author with 482,000 followers, tweeted an article about the incident with Parscale at his home. “Wonder if something else is about to come out,” she wrote.

Don Winslow, a prizewinning bestselling novelist, told his 457,000 followers that Parscale “isn’t in a psych ward because of the current @nytimes story. He’s in a psych ward because he knows the next two stories that are coming. Save this tweet.”

Writer Amee Vanderpool told her 318,000 followers that “Brad Parscale was only insulated from investigations into his financial dealings when he was with Trump. Now that he’s been cast out, we will likely see more and this could be impacting his current mental state.”

Vanderpool linked to an article she wrote in August on Substack about the $910,000 a Parscale company received from the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. It’s illegal for super PACs to coordinate with campaigns, and her August article said the arrangement “should draw legal scrutiny.”

Aside from speculation on Twitter, there has been scrutiny of the Trump campaign and its spending under Parscale. A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission in July by the Campaign Legal Center said the Trump campaign and related committees “disguised nearly $170 million of campaign spending by laundering the funds” through firms headed by Parscale, improperly disguising payments to the ultimate recipients, including the president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The current level of Parscale’s involvement in the campaign is unclear. The Washington Post reported that Parscale had been in the campaign office in Arlington, Virginia, in recent weeks. The Post reported that “Parscale had told others that he was upset by his demotion and attacks from people who were questioning his behavior as campaign manager. But he had spoken to officials in recent days, aides said, and remained involved in the campaign.”

Some other people were more supportive. “Sending my prayers to Brad Parscale and his family. We love you, Brad!” wrote Ryan Fournier, co-chairman of a pro-Trump group affiliated with the conservative group Turning Point, to his 1 million followers.

“We love you Brad and are praying for you. Get some rest and come back stronger than ever!” one woman wrote on Twitter. Another said, “Hope you feel better, we need your brilliance! Prayers for you.”

Legal experts say that Parscale could face criminal repercussions for the altercation.

“He could be charged. He could be charged with endangering his wife,” said Bob Jarvis, a professor of law at Nova University. Jarvis said that Parscale could also face domestic violence or battery charges, but all three would require his wife to cooperate with authorities.

If his wife doesn’t choose to cooperate, Jarvis says the likelihood of criminal charges is greatly diminished, but, he points out, much hinges on what occurred during the hourlong standoff between Parscale and the police.

“You need to find out what the police were trying to get Parscale to do. Was he resisting?” Jarvis said.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department did not respond to questions about whether or not it was forwarding the case to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office was closed for Yom Kippur.


©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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