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Three white men facing charges in Alabama riverboat brawl are identified as police share detailed account

The Montgomery Police Chief said that the conflict started between a pontoon boat owner and a co-captain of the Harriott II riverboat

Kelly Rissman
Tuesday 08 August 2023 20:27 BST
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Alabama riverboat brawl: Montgomery Police Chief lists the names of suspects and charges

Police in Montgomery, Alabama, have unveiled new details of a waterfront brawl captured on stunning viral video over the weekend - including the names of three white men currently facing charges.

Mongtomery Police Chief Darryl Albert addressed the incident at a press conference on Tuesday, confirming it all began with a private pontoon boat blocking a tourist cruise ship.

Chief Albert said that the Harriott II cruise ship, which takes passengers for 2-hour rides along the Alabama River, had 227 passengers on board when it tried to dock in its designated space, when it noticed a pontoon boat was docked there.

Damian Pickett, the Harriott’s co-captain, waited for 40 to 45 minutes for the boat to move. A smaller boat picked up Mr Pickett and brought him to the pier to try to have a conversation with the pontoon boat owner so that he could park the large vessel in its spot.

That’s when the co-captain “was attacked by several members of the private boat” after they “confronted him in a hostile manner,” the police chief said. Mr Pickett “was doing his job,” he added. The videos of the incident that ensued have now gone viral.

A video posted on Twitter by Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon shows a white man coming up the co-captain and punching him. More people are then seen piling on the alleged dock worker, hitting and punching him.

Mr Moon posted subsequent footage of even more people attacking each other. “Here’s part of what happened after the riverboat docked and the other workers and people on the boat were able to get to the fight,” the journalist wrote. The footage captured one man grabbing a foldable chair and then hitting people over the head with it.

The police said that in addition to Mr Pickett, an employee on the smaller vessel that transported him to the dock, a 16-year-old white male, was “assaulted by members of the pontoon boat.”

On the night of the incident, police detained 13 individuals; the interviews lasted several hours, but all parties involved were released.

Now, three people have warrants out for arrest. Richard Roberts, a 48-year-old white male has two warrants for assault, Allen Todd, a 23-year-old white male has one warrant for assault, and Zachary Shipman, a 25-year-old white male, also has one warrant for assault.

All individuals with warrants were members of the pontoon boat, the police chief said. The mayor said they are not residents of Montgomery, Alabama.

The police chief said one person is in custody with the Selma Police Department, and two still have to turn themselves in within the hour, but he did not identify who had already been detained.

Chief Albert also called for Reggie Gray, who is seen “wielding that folding chair” in videos, to contact police for further interviews.

The police chief added that the Montgomery Police Department is working with the state police agency, DA’s office and local FBI office; he said ”more charges are likely” as the investigation is ongoing.

He added that the police “examined whether there was enough to file hate crime charges” but these are the applicable charges with the footage they have so far. Chief Albert encouraged people to keep sending videos of the incident to the Montgomery Police Department.

“This is not indicative of who we are as a city. We are much better than that,” the police chief added. He called the incident “disturbing.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed released a statement following the brawl, saying that officers detained “several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job”. He continued, “This was an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred. As our police department investigates these intolerable actions, we should not become desensitized to violence of any kind in our community. Those who choose violent actions will be held accountable by our criminal justice system.”

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