Edward Kyle Van Tassel leaving his arraignment hearing
Paul Wellman

Kyle Van Tassel, the Iraq veteran arrested for waving an unloaded pistol on the La Cumbre overpass on November 3, resulting in a massive traffic jam on Highway 101 and a lengthy police standoff, is back in the limelight again.

At his bail hearing on November 12, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge George Eskin had reduced Van Tassel’s bail amount from $250,000 to $50,000, with a stipulation that he enter a residential mental heath facility operated by the Veterans Administration in West Los Angeles. However, according to Van Tassel’s attorney, Robert Landheer, a detective in the employ of Tom Cruise said that Van Tassel came to Cruise’s Beverly Hills home-located fairly close to the treatment center where Van Tassel is situated-on three occasions to give the star a book by Bruce Lee and a letter asking him to support veterans. At a hearing held today looking into the matter, it came to light that the visits to Cruise’s house were made with Van Tassel’s sister, in her car, while she was visiting her brother.

Landheer said that Van Tassel sees himself as a front man of sorts for veterans-a perception he surmised is exaggerated by his mental health issues-and that he sees Cruise as a good way to reach people on behalf of other veterans. “Kyle’s world view is colored by his Iraq experience,” he said. “His thinking is grandiose.”

Tom Cruise at the 2007 Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Paul Wellman (file)

The hearing today was to determine whether or not Van Tassel’s bail should be revoked, but through some mix-up in communication, Van Tassel did not appear in court. Judge Eskin called for an inquiry to see if the VA facility had not been informed of the hearing, as it is required to provide Van Tassel’s transportation to and from court appearances. There was also a dispute between Eskin-who was sure that Van Tassel wasn’t allowed to leave the facility at all-and Landheer regarding Van Tassel’s obligation to stay at the facility at all times.

Eskin expressed regret for not ordering a psychiatric evaluation at Van Tassel’s first hearing, a facet of the case he said will be addressed when court reconvenes on Monday morning, December 15, at 8:30 a.m. In the meantime, Van Tassel is forbidden from having any contact with Cruise or his family.


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