Co-captain in Riverfront Brawl in Montgomery: ‘I was just doing my job’

We're learning more about the Saturday incident and about a fourth arrest.
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 10:33 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 10:50 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - WSFA 12 News has obtained copies of Harriott II Riverboat co-captain Dameion Pickett’s statement, along with another witness statement, in the Montgomery Riverfront brawl. Three people have turned themselves into police, charged with assault, in the attack that has gone viral.

In separate statements to Montgomery Police Department, Pickett, and the other witness describe the brutal attack that happened Saturday on the Riverfront. The other witness even recalled hearing the “n-word” and mentions of “getting a gun.” In these statements, Pickett identified Richard Roberts as the main assailant, Allen Todd as the man who tackled him, and Zachary Shipman as the man who was hitting and kicking him.

Authorities say the brawl started Saturday evening when the captain of the Harriott II Riverboat and his co-captain, Dameion Pickett, were attempting to get a private pontoon boat to move out of the riverboat’s spot.

In Dameion Pickett’s statement to MPD, he stated he was on the riverboat with his captain when they noticed a couple of boats close to their docking area. They called on the intercom “at least five or six times” for a black pontoon boat to move, and it never moved. Dameion said he could see them “flipping them off” and cursing at them, and he worked with his deckhand, the 16-year-old victim, to help him get to the dock. He said that’s where he was confronted by two men.

One of them told him, “if you touch my boat….I’m going to beat your a**.” He says the owner of the boat eventually “got in his face.” I told him, “I was just doing my job,” and that’s when he took off his hat and threw it in the air. He later identified the person who started the attack as Richard Roberts.

A passenger on the Harriott II Riverboat was recording when a confrontation turned into a fight involving multiple people.

Pickett says from there, he remembers being tackled to the ground. He said in the statement:

“I think I bit one of them, and I can hear them saying, ‘I’m going to kill you mother*****. I can’t tell you how long it lasted. I grabbed someone and held on for dear life. I was holding on when they pulled him. I looked up, and two people was pulling them off, a tall gentleman and a security guard. I fell to the ground again, and the security grabbed me.”

He remembers seeing one of his coworkers swimming to help.

“I look up. One of my coworkers had jumped in the water and was pushing people and fighting. I told him I need to dock the boat, so he they threw me a line.”

Eventually, he said the Riverboat boat was docked, and he could hear more people, “passengers and coworkers,” arguing. He also spotted his nephew and sister. He said from there, the fighting continued.

“The guy, the one who started it all {Roberts} was choking my sister. I hit him, grabbed her, and turned around, and MPD had a taser in my face. I told him I was attacked and said can I finish my job? Because the back of the boat wasn’t tied.”

He said later on, he saw a “tall gentleman with the white chair, and MPD was on the scene.” He said he was eventually able to let the passengers off with MPD’s assistance.

“I was apologizing to them for the inconvenience. Some of them gave me cards with their names and numbers”.

Dameion Pickett said afterward his head was hurting. He went to the hospital to get checked out, and thankfully, in the statement, he said, “no broken bones, just a few bruised ribs, and a lump on his head.” No serious head injuries.

When he watched the viral videos and with the help of police, he was able to identify three suspects. He told police he couldn’t really tell what woman hit him. He said he also learned that his 16-year-old deckhand was attacked in the brawl too. The 16-year-old’s mother wrote in a separate statement to police that her son was punched in the chest. She said she was working on the second deck on the Harriott II when it happened.

She recalls her son and another younger deckhand going to move the other smaller boats, and that’s when she heard the men yelling and using the “n-word.” She said, “Five of six men” rushed to attack the second deckhand, and her son tried to help and pull them off him. She said that’s when Richard Roberts punched the 16-year-old in the chest. In her statement, she said her son stumbled away hurt. She said that’s when she heard another man say he was “getting his gun.”

From there, the 16-year-old’s mother said her son came to her on the second deck and “tried to catch his breath,” and that’s when she saw some of the employees fighting too. She said her son had bruised ribs and is hurt.

Montgomery’s police chief said during a news conference that he doesn’t think this attack was “racially motivated” and also said they consulted the FBI and said right now, this doesn’t constitute as a hate crime.

Montgomery Police Department has confirmed all three suspects have turned themselves in. Allen Todd, 23, and Zachary Shipman, 25, turned themselves in Wednesday around 6:45 p.m. and were charged with one count each of misdemeanor third-degree assault. Richard Roberts, 48, turned himself in on Tuesday and faces two third-degree assault charges.

Thursday morning, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed posted on social media: “Great work, Montgomery police! We’re grateful to our officers, partners, and community members to help us ensure justice can be served.”


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