Dashiell, Knobloch have day in court

The scuffle that shocked city hall was recounted in a Bainbridge Island courtroom Tuesday as the two combatants gave differing accounts of the conflict.

At the end of it all, a municipal court judge denied proposed restraining orders the pair had sought against the other.

Tempers flared after a vote to fire Bainbridge's city manager at the March 14 city council meeting, and what followed has been since described as a shoving match or a flash of fisticuffs between former councilman Bill Knobloch and Robert Dashiell.

Dashiell said Tuesday that the judge said she needed more than just a single incident to grant a court order that would keep the men apart.

"You would have to demonstrate to the judge that there was a pattern, more than a single incident, of harassment to the point where personal safety was a consideration. And neither side came up with any evidence of that," Dashiell said.

Knobloch had filed first for a restraining order against Dashiell after the scuffle earlier this month. He was granted a temporary restraining order that lasted until the court hearing this week.

Accounts of the brouhaha are still far apart. What is known is that Dashiell pushed Knobloch during a recess at the council meeting.

Dashiell, however, said Knobloch began the altercation and he responded.

Knobloch, in turn, has said that Dashiell was the aggressor by first punching him.

Whatever the scuffle was, it wasn't enough. Judge Jennifer Forbes dropped the restraining order and denied both parties their requests since the only evidence was Knobloch's word against Dashiell's.

The judge also found that neither party had offered proof that the other was a threat.

If bad behavior continues and can be proven on either side, then the option of a restraining order could be revisited in the future, she said.

"Basically, Dashiell was put on notice and he can't do things like that," Knobloch said.

Both men recounted the incident Tuesday while offering different versions that placed the other party as the aggressor.

Knobloch submitted four written witness statements from Jim Taylor, Richard Packard, Debbie Vann and Dick Allen. Packard caught Knobloch as he fell, and Vann was also knocked down during the incident. Allen said he did not witness the incident directly.

No witnesses saw Dashiell punch Knobloch, but two did see him pushed.

Dan Mallove, former chairman of the city's Utility Advisory Committee, spoke as Dashiell's witness.

Dashiell also brought in his camera as evidence.

The camera is outfitted with a telephoto lens and a right-handed grip. Dashiell said that he is right-handed and was holding his camera at the time of the incident, making it rather difficult for him to strike Knobloch.

"If I punched him with a six-pound camera in my hand, he would've been hurt and there is no indication of that," Dashiell said.

Dashiell had previously filed for a restraining order against Knobloch after the scuffle, but the request was denied after the judge decided against filing two overlapping orders.

During Tuesday's hearing, Dashiell also raised the question of whether Knobloch has a concealed weapons permit.

"I feel he has an anger problem and he has given me his one-finger-salute in city hall, and I said that I don't feel that I need a restraining order against him unless he does have a concealed weapons permit," Dashiell said, adding that he told the judge that Knobloch may have brought a weapon to council meetings in the past.

The judge did not require Knobloch to respond to the allegation.

"The judge said that she wasn't going to go there," Dashiell recalled.

"Quite frankly, it's against the law to ask that question, if I have a gun permit or not, and the judge said that," Knobloch said. "He was trying to paint a bad picture and he did everything he could to assassinate my personal integrity."

Knobloch, in turn, brought up the issue of Dashiell posting blog comments online, but the judge determined that the comments were protected free speech and did not show a pattern of harassment or threats.

In the end, Knobloch said that he has no issues with Dashiell.

"I was a public official and he disagreed with my decisions while in public office, but I don't have anything against him," Knobloch said.

"He has a right to his opinion and I respect that," he said.

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