On the night of February 16, 2007, my twenty-year-old son Kyle died of a gunshot wound to the head in the Clearwater, Florida, apartment of his Scientologist father, Tom Brennan. Despite what it says in the subsequent Clearwater Police Report—that Kyle committed suicide—because of criminally mishandled police procedures, it’s impossible to tell who pulled the trigger on the weapon that killed my son. It’s also impossible to identify the weapon that was used. (For more information on the weapon, see the blog post entitled “Tom Brennan: A Weapon and Bullet List of Contradictory Statements.”)
Because of all of the lying done by the Scientologists involved, this horrible family tragedy is inescapably tied to the Church of Scientology and its highly questionable practices. Kyle’s death took place only thirty-six hours after Tom Brennan had been given written orders to “handle” Kyle by Scientology’s “Flag Service Organization” (the church’s “spiritual headquarters” based in Clearwater’s Fort Harrison Hotel).
“Handling,” as per Scientology, means taking care of a situation, removing a problem. To Scientologists, my son was a “Suppressive Person” (an “SP”), and “an enemy of the Church” simply because he used Lexapro, a prescribed psychiatric medication. One of the central tenets of Scientology is that psychiatry and psychiatric medications are evil: they’re forbidden. Another Scientology belief is that ethics don’t apply to “handling” a so-called “enemy of the Church.” As founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote in “Fair Game Law”: “An enemy . . . may be deprived of property or injured by any means. . . . [They] may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
Brennan was ordered by Flag to “handle” his son or else face the consequences. We believe that as part of this Church-mandated “handling,” Tom Brennan took control of his son’s psychiatric medication—his much-needed Lexapro—and locked it in the trunk of his car.
The police investigation into Kyle’s suspicious death was woefully mismanaged, replete with conflicts of interest. The Clearwater Police Report is a tissue of omissions, half-truths, and outright lies. A myriad of questions asked by Kyle’s family remains unanswered.
In February 2009, the Estate of Kyle Brennan filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in the Tampa, Florida, Middle District Federal Court. Named as defendants were: Tom Brennan; Denise Miscavige Gentile, Brennan’s Scientology “auditor” (or advisor), twin sister of Scientology’s controversial leader, David Miscavige; Denise’s husband, Gerald “Jerry” Gentile; the Church of Scientology; and Flag Service Organization, Inc. (hereafter referred to as “Flag”).
In June 2009, Flag filed a motion for Rule 11 sanctions against the Estate of Kyle Brennan and the Estate’s legal representative, Kennan “Ken” G. Dandar. Rule 11 “provides that a district court may sanction attorneys or parties who submit pleadings for an improper purpose that contain arguments with no evidentiary support” (see http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s110.htm).
Flag’s motion states that: “Thomas Brennan advised that Kyle had not been taking the Lexapro on a regular basis prior to his arrival in Clearwater, Florida.” The document says that Kyle “filled the prescription [for Lexapro] in Virginia on 11/24/06 for 30 pills . . . . One tablet to be taken daily.” Sixteen tablets remained in the bottle on the day Kyle died. Therefore, the motion claims: “Approximately 85 days elapsed from the time the deceased [Kyle] filled the prescription of 11/24/06, thus indicating the deceased willingly refused to take the medication.”
To recap: Flag states that because 16 tablets remained after 85 days, Kyle used only 14 during that period. Fourteen tablets over 85 days: That’s the rate of consumption Flag calls “irregular.”
“There is no evidence to the contrary,” the motion continues. “Nor will there be. The two witnesses to what transpired with respect to the medication are Thomas Brennan and Kyle Brennan. Kyle Brennan is deceased and Thomas Brennan has already provided the police with the facts about what happened to his son. No witness exists who is competent to contradict him.” The facts, according to Flag’s motion, “do not support the allegation that Thomas Brennan took away his son’s Lexapro without his knowledge and consent.”
Whose facts?! The facts, according to Thomas Brennan, a pathological liar? (That’s a fact, by the way, and easily provable. See “Kyle’s Story: A Summary of the Lies & Deception.”) Or the facts according to Scientology, a religious organization whose founder preached that lying—when going after Church “enemies” (i.e., people who use psychiatric medication)—was an acceptable modus operandi?
Here are the facts regarding Kyle Brennan’s Lexapro pill count (a seemingly obscure detail that nonetheless proved to be extremely important). Kyle indeed filled his prescription for 30 Lexapro tablets on 11/24/06. The Wal-Mart prescription bottle found in the trunk of Thomas Brennan’s vehicle contained 16 pills. But Kyle’s prescription, up until that time, had always been filled—either by myself or by my husband—at the nearby CVS Pharmacy, not at Wal-Mart. And in fact, that very same day—November 24, Black Friday—I had filled Kyle’s prescription for 30 Lexapro tablets at CVS. This means that Kyle, in anticipation of traveling, had taken it upon himself to purchase an additional month’s-worth of Lexapro. But there were even more tablets: Kyle’s previous prescription bottle wasn’t used up, it still contained 5 or 6. (When I re-filled his prescription, the CVS pharmacist poured the left-over pills into the new prescription bottle.)
So—to be precise, to use facts, not concocted ones—Kyle took 65 or 66 Lexapro tablets with him when he left home, not 30 as Flag told the court. A total of 84 days passed between Black Friday and Kyle’s passing on February 16, 2007 (not 85). And his Wal-Mart prescription bottle, containing 16 pills, was seized by his father—as a part of the “handling”—3 days earlier. Kyle had access to his medication, therefore, for 81 days. This means that my son consumed 49 or 50 Lexapro tablets for 81 days, not 14 over 85 days, as alleged by Flag. Add to this the fact that Kyle, on his own volition, purchased an additional month’s-worth of his medication before leaving home, and a very different image of my son emerges: He believed the Lexapro helped him; he felt he needed it. He was taking it fairly regularly.
As noted above, Flag called Kyle’s Lexapro consumption “irregular.” Their lawyers claimed that because Kyle used his medication “irregularly,” any sudden break in its use—as, say, occasioned by Tom Brennan’s seizure—would not have precipitated suicide. Therefore, stated Flag lawyers in their twisted version of events, the defendants Brennan, the Gentiles, the Church of Scientology, and Flag were not liable for Kyle’s death.
But here are a few more facts. Kyle’s psychiatrist was Dr. Stephen McNamara of Charlottesville, Virginia. He was deposed on June 16, 2010. When asked by Flag’s lawyers about the “irregular” use of Lexapro, Dr. McNamara stated, under oath, that Kyle “could have been taking less than what we [Kyle and he] had originally discussed.” He continued with the following critical medical facts: “The key point would be abrupt discontinuation of such medicine when it’s proven to be a benefit leads to a very well-documented syndrome, its Serotonin Discontinuation Syndrome.” When “abruptly withdrawn,” he said, “many, many people, if not the majority, experience physical symptoms” as well as emotional symptoms, the latter including: “Mood liability or mood swings of a very rapid and fluctuating nature; irritability; agitation; uncontrollable tearfulness; [and] anxiety. . . . And again, if the evidence points to suicide . . . with any reasonable medical certainty, anybody . . . being subject to an abrupt withdrawal, that would clearly be a precipitating cause. . . . So if indeed, he [Kyle] was taking it irregularly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t feel better and it’s physiologically explainable because of Lexapro” (which, he explained, works more quickly than other psychotropic medications).
Dr. McNamara, in other words, stated that even if Kyle were taking his Lexapro “irregularly”—which, we have shown, was not the case—the abrupt termination of his usage would be a “precipitating cause” of his suicide.
Dr. McNamara shot down all of the flimsy medical assumptions thrown at him by Flag’s legal team. Then he launched into a statement that certainly rattled them: “In addition,” he said, “if I’m hearing the record accurately, Kyle’s father played some role in preventing his access to his medicine. . . . If that’s the case, for—I mean, for any parent to willfully withhold treatment that has proven to be effective for somebody, explicitly stated by one’s child that it’s helpful . . . the act of withholding of that, I can only conjecture about the devastation that that would imply. We’re supposed to trust our parents to take care of us.”
Indeed, Dr. McNamara, our parents are supposed to take care of us. A parent’s top priorities are supposed to be their child’s care, health, and well-being . . . not the well-being of an organization with no moral center.
“Perhaps Merryday, to gain a better understanding of the defendants, should have first familiarized himself with some of the basic tenets of Scientology.”
Luke Lirot-email-conversation with detective Steve Bohling
In September of 2007, Attorney Luke Lirot had his first and only meeting with Detective Stephen Bohling of the Clearwater Police Department.The email written to me one day after the meeting is insightful as it states a different version as to how Kyle’s medication was removed from his possession. This is important because if it were not for the lying of several witnesses Kyle would have had his day in court. The Church of Scientology used the false testimony to serve their agenda.
For more information regarding the highly questionable events surrounding Kyle’s death, the extremely mishandled police investigation, and the perjured testimony given by the defendants please refer to “The Truth for Kyle Brennan” blog at https://thetruthforkylebrennan.com/