NEWPORT BEACH — A father who threw his 7-year-old son overboard while on a harbor cruise was charged Wednesday with felony child abuse and endangerment as well as misdemeanor resisting arrest.
Sloan Steven Briles, 35, of Irvine slapped his son in the face repeatedly and then picked him up and threw him into the water during the afternoon cruise in August, according to prosecutors.
At the time, the ship was in a busy boating area in Newport Beach and the first mate was forced to maneuver the boat to protect the child from being struck by another vessel, prosecutors said.
The captain threw the crying child, who was treading water, a life ring.
Passengers on another boat were able to help the child out of the water.
The boy was shaken up, but otherwise OK, said Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.
Prosecutors say Briles also jumped in the water, but only to escape angry passengers.
Amormino says it all started when Briles and his girlfriend got into a verbal altercation aboard the boat.
Brile's two sons from a previous marriage, the 7-year-old and a 6-year-old, were with him on the trip.
Both boys apparently witnessed the argument and the 7-year-old was visibly upset, Amormino said.
Witnesses say that's when Briles picked him up and tossed him into the water.
Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies who arrested Briles had to drag him from the ship because he refused to get off the vessel on his own, prosecutors said.
In an interview on KTLA-5 after the incident, Briles said he never hit his son and that he and the boy were just "having fun."
Briles says he did not hit his son that day and has never hit his son, adding: "I did nothing except jump in the water with my kid."
Deputies who took Briles into custody say he was combative and resisted arrest, and they believe he had been drinking.
When asked if he would have done the same thing had he not been drinking, Briles said, "Absolutely."
Briles was booked on suspicion of child endangerment and resisting arrest.
He is free on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 26.
He faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison.