The Black boat captain who was attacked by white boaters in a Montgomery, Alabama, riverfront brawl that drew national attention has been accused of assault in connection with the melee, NBC News reports.
The incident occurred on August 5 when Damieon Pickett, co-captain of the Harriott II riverboat, had a verbal exchange with boaters who refused to move their pontoon boat so the city-owned Harriott II riverboat could dock in its designated space.
Video footage shows Pickett in a verbal exchange with boaters after asking them to make way for the riverboat. A shirtless white man is then seen forcefully shoving and swinging at Pickett, initiating a brawl involving several individuals.
The co-captain faces a charge of misdemeanor assault, according to court records. Pickett’s family said that they were told that the assault charge against him stems from allegations that he punched another man, Zachary Shipman. According to the co-captain’s sister, Nicole Pickett, Shipman claimed he was not involved in the brawl and attempted to stop one of his friends from fighting.
In Alabama, a person can file a misdemeanor complaint, leading to a magistrate issuing a summons for the accused person to appear, according to a police spokesperson per NBC News.
A joint statement from the mayor and police chief clarified that neither the city nor the police department filed the charges against Pickett. “The Montgomery Police Department’s investigation only lists Mr. Pickett as a victim,” according to the statement.
The Pickett family insists that even if Shipman had been an innocent bystander or a peacekeeper, it would be unreasonable to believe their loved one would have paused to consider who was around him before defending himself under those circumstances.
“At that time, you got a bunch of angry a– guys beating up on you in the head. You don’t know who hit you,” sister Nicole Pickett said. “You just swing (in self-defense).
A report by the Associated Press confirms that five other people were previously charged with the brawl. Two white boaters have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault or harassment. Three others, including a Black man who was filmed swinging a folding chair, have upcoming court dates.