TV

'MasterChef' finalist who allegedly attacked police: 'I have bipolar disorder'

Aug. 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM ET

"MasterChef" season three finalist Joshua Marks is facing charges stemming from a bizarre incident last week in which he was arrested for allegedly attacking a police officer at a University of Chicago apartment complex. Those in contact with the 7-foot-2 reality TV contestant say Marks' actions were completely out of character for him and are likely the result of a mental illness.

A video shot in February to promote the Make a Sound Project supports those sentiments. In the clip, Marks mentioned that he struggles with mental illness.

"Me personally, I have bipolar disorder," Marks said in the video. "I get a little anxious sometimes, and how I cool out is I listen to music."

"The Josh that you read about in reports last week is not the gentle giant that we know, and we now understand that mental illness symptoms were involved," his attorney Lisa M. Butler told NBCNews.com.

"Josh speaking about his illness in his own words is very compelling," Butler said. "It was a difficult decision to open up Josh's very private health matters to the world, but his family firmly believes that helping just one person battling mental illness (to) avoid this type of situation or save a life, makes it worth it."

Butler added that reports the Make a Sound Project had dropped Marks as a spokesperson are false, as Marks never officially represented the organization as a spokesperson.

"The Josh Marks I know is not a guy who assaults police officers," Matthew Parcher of the Make a Sound Project, a suicide prevention organization that Marks worked with on several occasions, told NBCNews.com. "It is obvious to me that, even if all those things did happen, he could not have been in a state of mind in which he was reasoning correctly to have done it."

But despite his mental health issues, "Josh is facing serious criminal charges, make no mistake about that," Butler said, adding that Marks had to undergo plastic surgery to fix the damage done to his face during the incident.

"The key issue is not only the action that Josh took that night but whether or not in a manic state associated with bipolar disorder," Butler added. "He may not have even understood that the group of people approaching him were in fact police."

Marks is currently being held in the Cook County Jail and faces felony charges of aggravated assault against a police officer. According to Butler, he was indicted Monday morning and has been moved from the medical facility where he was being held last week to the Cook County Jail, where he remains in general population. Butler said that Marks' family is working to raise enough money to bail him out of jail.

"The goal is to get him into treatment, not just to get him out of jail," Butler said. "His mother is working to find an appropriate medical facility where he can get the medical care and medication that he needs. We would like him to be released to his mom's custody, but go straight into the treatment where he can remain until he goes to trial. Sitting in jail is not helping him in the interim."

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