SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man accused of throwing his 7-year-old son overboard during a sightseeing cruise around California's Newport Harbor told Fox News that he had no intention of hurting the child, and was about to dive in with the boy.
"I want to make clear, it was jumping in together, not tossing him over the side," said Sloane Briles, who had described his actions in earlier media interviews as "horse playing."
But witnesses tell a much different story. In 911 tapes released Tuesday, a passenger expressed shock and disgust after seeing Briles toss the boy into the water and said the man was acting like he was intoxicated.
Briles denied the charge and said "acting like you're intoxicated and acting like a kid is very similar. And by the way, I sincerely doubt that her (the 911 caller) brain is calibrated to accept alcohol level whatsoever. "
He continued, "I do not think it was a good idea, and I would take it back if I could."
He appeared on Fox News alongside his girlfriend Jennifer Burrelli who supported his recollection of the events. Though at one point during the interview, Briles appeared to grow agitated with her, grimaces toward her and tells her to stop.
Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said Briles, 35, was on the tour with his girlfriend and two sons from a previous marriage. Amormino said they got into an argument and Briles threatened to toss the boy into the water if he didn't stop crying.
Staff members on the 42-foot boat said Briles told the boy he needed to toughen up then threw him into the water five feet below, said Charlie Maas, who oversees the tour company.
Someone on the boat threw the boy a life ring, and he was safely rescued, uninjured, by another boater. The father also jumped in to save him before swimming back to the tour boat. Another 911 caller said she thought Briles was "drunk and violent."
Briles was taken into custody for child endangerment and resisting arrest. He denied witnesses' accounts that the boy was crying and said he had never hit his son.
He apologized to his son during the interview, saying "I'm so sorry if I scared you. I really trust that you're the best swimmers."
Both the boy and his brother were returned to the care of their mother. The couple was married in 2002 and separated in 2006 after having two children. They divorced in 2007.
Family court filings showed Briles lost his job in the mortgage industry in 2007 and got another job, but was injured and drew worker's compensation. He successfully petitioned to get his child support obligation reduced and tried for a second reduction, which his ex-wife, Christin, opposed.
Briles pleaded guilty in in February 2009 to being in contempt for not paying child support and was sentenced to three years of probation, according to court records. Briles also pleaded guilty in 2011 to public intoxication.
"I know what I did with my son," Briles said. "I would never hurt him, however, bad idea."