Will We See Mel Gibson Arrest Tape?

Mel Gibson speaks to the press Sept. 20, 2002 in Rome, to announce that he will start "The Passion of the Christ," his first movie as a director.
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The movie that could be the most important of Mel Gibson's career is one the actor likely will fight to never have released.

The video and audio recording of Gibson's drunken driving arrest could add fuel to the controversy over his anti-Semitic tirade at a deputy who pulled him over and his self-described belligerent behavior when he was brought to a sheriff's station early on July 28.

For now, authorities won't release the tapes.

"They are part of the evidence," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore. "Once everything is done and the case is wrapped up we certainly can revisit it."

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said the tapes would not be made public unless they were introduced as evidence at a trial.

"We retain them as part of the investigative file," Robison said. "We do not release them unless they become part of the public record."

However, legal experts agree that it is unlikely that Gibson will ask for a trial.

Gibson's lawyer, Blair Berk, declined to comment on the matter.

TMZ, an Internet celebrity news site that first released leaked sections of Gibson's booking report, is seeking the tapes under the California Public Records Act.

It maintains the tapes should be seen and heard by the public to assess whether the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department gave Gibson preferential treatment.

"We want the tapes not just because of Mel Gibson but because the tape puts the conduct of the sheriff's department in context," said Harvey Levin, head of TMZ.