No Hate Crime Charges Brought As a Result of Montgomery Boat Brawl

Three people were instead charged with assault at the Alabama rumble at the river.

Police are charging at least three people in connection with the Saturday (August 5) evening brawl that took place at a Montgomery, Ala., dock. Officials confirmed that the fighting caught on cell phone video, would not rise to hate crime or riot charges.

The viral video caught by several onlookers from several angles depicts a wild fight between a large group of individuals, one group White, another group largely Black and has captured much of the chatter on social media.

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday (Aug. 8) that the fight stemmed from the occupants of a boat that prevented the Harriott II riverboat from docking, refusing to move their vessel, and becoming belligerent.

The Harriot II, a popular local attraction, was carrying 227 people on a two-hour evening cruise  along the Alabama River when it approached its dock. However, the captain, seeing that it was being blocked, attempted to contact the boaters for nearly 45 minutes but was ignored.

Co-captain, Damian Pickett boarded a smaller boat that was piloted by a 16-year-old boy in an attempt to get them to move. During this time, the boaters shouted obscenities at the Harriott’s captain, Albert said. When Pickett arrived at the dock, the boaters confronted him, and then physically attacked him. Staffers from the Harriott II—including an individual who swam to the dock—rushed to his defense, and an all-out fight ensued.

RELATED: Montgomery Mayor Cannot 'Confirm Or Deny' If Waterfront Brawl Was Racially Motivated

Both Pickett and the boy, who was White, were struck in the incident, but no significant injuries were reported. Police were called at 7:00 p.m., and by 7:15 p.m. more urgent calls had come in. Officers had begun to arrive by 7:18 p.m.

Albert said there was no signage defining where boats could dock, but said the mooring area set for the Harriott was “well-defined” by the dock itself and is cordoned off to accommodate the vessel.

“The co-captain was doing his job, he was simply trying to move the boat just enough to where the cruise ship could park safely in its identified location, but it quickly escalated into a physical encounter,” said Albert.

After the fight, 13 people were taken into custody, questioned, and then released. But no arrests were immediately made, police said.

RELATED: Montgomery Mayor Says 'Justice Will Be Served' After Raucous Riverboat Brawl

Three suspects have been named in the incident, Albert told reporters: Richard Roberts, 48, on two counts of third-degree assault; Allen Todd, 23, and Zachery Shipman, 25, both on a single count of third-degree assault. Each of them are White males. However Albert said in their investigation so far, and after consulting with the FBI, there has been nothing that elevates the charges to hate crimes or inciting a riot.

“There was no stone unturned,” said Albert. “We examined this over a period of time, not only that night but since that night. At this time, based on the way the statutes read the laws are crafted, we were unable to present any inciting a riot or racially biased charges.”

One individual has turned himself in to authorities and was in the custody of the Selma (Ala.) Police Department. The other two were expected to do the same on Tuesday.

A fourth individual, a Black male, Reggie Gray, 42, is being sought for questioning after being shown on the video striking a woman over the head with a folding chair.

Albert said the investigation into the incident is continuing and that more charges could be filed. There is no indication that what happened was a continuation from something that happened before and he called it “stand alone.”

“This is not indicative of who we are as a city,” Albert said. “The city of Montgomery is much better than that. Our people are fine people…we had folks downtown enjoying a good day…so it was quite disturbing that we had this type of activity happening.”

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