An Austin criminal defense attorney who was previously tied to a drug distribution ring was arrested on Wednesday after police said he chased a man speeding through his Hyde Park neighborhood, beat him up and smashed his Tesla.
Richard Patrick Fagerberg, 48, was arrested for criminal mischief, assault and driving while intoxicated on Wednesday. He posted bail set at $6,000, records show.
According to an arrest affidavit, the charges stem from a road rage incident that occurred in his Hyde Park neighborhood on Tuesday evening.
Austin police said they responded to a disturbance that night on 44th Street and Avenue C, where they found Fagerberg in the road with his hands bloodied and appearing intoxicated, the affidavit says.
Fagerberg told police that a man had been speeding 90 mph down the street and almost killed his kid, the affidavit says. He admitted to pursuing him through the neighborhood after the incident, the document says.
The man who was driving the Tesla told police he may have been speeding but did not see Fagerberg’s child, the affidavit says. He said after the incident, Fagerberg followed him, came up to his window a few blocks away and “started ‘assaulting’ him by punching him in the face,” the document says.
He said Fagerberg then kicked the driver side door, broke the side mirror and drove away, the affidavit says.
Fagerberg admitted to police that he had damaged the man’s vehicle, and a witness that saw the chase backed up the story to authorities, the document says.
Fagerberg submitted to a breath test, which showed he was intoxicated above the legal limit, the affidavit says. Police said damages to the man’s Tesla totaled more than $7,000, the document says.
Fagerberg told the American-Statesman on Friday he admitted to following and hitting the man, and said he felt ashamed of the incident. He said he was scared for his 21-month-old son’s life after he said he was nearly struck by the man driving the Tesla.
“I don’t like hitting people. That’s not who I am,” Fagerberg said. “Someone had to stop him. If I did not stop him he would have killed someone. This wasn't ‘I was just speeding in a neighborhood.’ This was insanity.”
He said he was not drunk when he pursued the man in his car and that he had walked back into his house before talking to police to take a shot of whiskey and calm his nerves.
“I'd like to blame it on that,” he said. “But I literally think I would have reacted the same way. I was in shock... He literally terrorized my neighborhood.”
Fagerberg, who has made news headlines before, quit practicing law after he was injured in 2011 during South by Southwest when he said a 350-pound mechanical arm and video camera crashed on him during a concert at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q.
He filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, SXSW and other parties, saying he no longer had “the mental capacity or thought processes to effectively represent his clients.”
Stubb's reached an undisclosed settlement in the case in 2014 and an appeals court later decided that the other parties could not be held liable, court documents show.
A People Magazine article detailed Fagerberg’s artistic pursuits after his head injury.
In 2015, Fagerberg was arrested after federal authorities tied him to a drug distribution ring that was moving methamphetamine and cocaine across Central and South Texas.
He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of withholding information in the case. Fagerberg’s attorney at the time, Guillermo Jose Gonzalez, said there was no evidence his client had sold drugs or had been in possession of large quantities of drugs, that he had a a drug addiction problem and purchased only small amounts for personal use.
Fagerberg has since returned to practicing law. A search of Travis County court records shows he is representing several clients with active criminal cases.
His attorney Matthew Shrum said by phone Friday that Fagerberg had done the neighborhood a service by drawing attention to the dangers of speeding.
"If the guy got punched in the face he probably deserved it,” Shrum said. “Hopefully that will make him think twice about driving 70 miles per hour down a residential street.”