Driver dies by sword, Dong remembered as “friend”
An LAPD SWAT team eased the compliance of murder suspect and former porn actor Stephen Clancy Hill to his verbalized wish to kill himself by utilizing a “less-than-lethal weapon” – either a taser or fired beanbag – to send the 34-year-old off a 50-ft. Canoga Park cliff Saturday.
In an ABC video, Hill appears to jump off the cliff after being fired on by SWAT team members standing within a few feet of him. An LAPD investigation will determine whether a taser or beanbag was deployed. If it was a taser, Hill’s fall may not have been voluntary.
Neighbors tipped off police to Hill’s whereabouts Saturday morning, and police and news crews arrived at 8800 Azul Drive in Canoga Park, a porn shooting location operated by fetish producer Michael Kahn.
Hill had been on the lam since the previous Tuesday night, and on Friday had been formally charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder in a series of attacks at the warehouse offices of Ultima DVD, a producer of fetish porn. According to sources, Hill had been told that he was losing both his job and his temporary living quarters at the warehouse, where he had been employed as a web designer and sometime porn actor.
In the 8-hour standoff with police Saturday Hill, who carried previous weapons charges from incidents in his native Maryland, repeatedly shouted that he wanted to kill himself.
But the best video proves inconclusive as to whether he finally did the job on his own or was helped.
I met Hill in October, 2008 when he appeared as Barack Obama in the Sarah Palin porn spoof “Erection 2008: Rode to the White House.” Hill told me he was hopeful Obama would win the coming election so he’d have more opportunities as Porn’s Obama Impersonator. He was professional with cast and crew and seemed happy to be there.
In the last few days, porn industry social network posts have labeled Hill “creepy” and “crazy,” while others mention his participation in a bowling league. Industry workers tell of Hill’s inclination to show them photos of himself with women to procure film work.
Hill’s porn alias was Steve Driver and the alias of the man he allegedly killed, 30-year-old Chinese-American Herbert Wong, was Tom Dong.
The unfurling of this tragedy has no precedent in the porn world, though plenty of people predicted Hill would commit suicide before going to jail.
But it seems like coverage of this issue, both within and outside the porn world, didn’t worry much about taking the story too seriously.
First, of course, was the eyewitness issue. Several people have stepped forward to implicate Hill, as well as to say that Wong died trying to save other staff from Hill’s rampage. For many, the case was closed and therefore open to comment.
Clouding coverage is the occupations of Hill and Wong: porn actors with aliases always open to ridicule, and with film resumes populated with titles that weren’t meant to be taken seriously. Then there was the prop samurai sword that is both the alleged murder weapon and the thing Hill clutched in his descent from the cliff.
So it wasn’t a surprise that coverage of this tragedy lacked the gravitas of that of murder suspect and former “Survivor” producer Bruce Beresford-Redman, who Mexican police believe may have strangled his wife, Monica, in Cancun.
Beresford-Redman is currently free in Los Angeles by virtue of a quirk in Mexico’s extradition laws. His wife was found dead in April and Beresford-Redman managed to pass back into the United States without a passport. He has been photographed this week in Rancho Palos Verdes and the L.A. Zoo.
While Beresford-Redman is undoubtedly hounded by paparazzi and never given a moment’s peace, the nature of his artistic endeavors, such as “Survivor” and “Pimp My Ride,” aren’t used as fuel for public speculation about his guilt or innocence. To my knowledge, no one has made a “Pimp My Electric Chair” or “Survivor: Prison” joke.
But Herbert Wong, who was just as wronged as Monica Burgos Beresford-Redman, won’t have the benefit of public sympathy because he is “Tom Dong.” Instead, he got this on the website of Ultima DVD:
“Tom heroism a few days ago enabled us to escape with our lives, and his sacrifice will not go unheard. He will be remembered in the industry as a actor and technical “go-to” guy who was a valuable resource and friend to all.”
It’s sad he won’t get more.
Hill died Saturday about a mile due south of where these on-set photos were taken in 2008.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: “Obama” porn actor sought in stabbings; “Palin” in comparison
See also: In Loving Memory of Tom Dong: Editor, Cinematographer, Actor, Hero and Brother to All; Porn actor falls over cliff, ending standoff