5th suspect arrested in Montgomery riverfront brawl
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A fifth suspect in the Montgomery riverfront brawl investigation has been arrested nearly a week after the incident captured national attention. On Friday, Montgomery police said Reggie Ray, 42, turned himself in. His surrender came days after law enforcement requested he come forward.
Ray is alleged to be the person seen on video hitting someone with a folding chair. He’s now being held in the Montgomery Municipal Jail on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.
Ray’s arrest follows those of Mary Todd, 21, who turned herself in Thursday; Allen Todd, 23, and Zachery Shipman, 25, who surrendered Wednesday; and Richard Roberts, 48, who turned himself in Tuesday. Ray is the only suspect so far not charged with at least one count of misdemeanor third-degree assault, though more suspects and charges are possible.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, prior to Ray’s arrest, released a statement praising the “diligence and dedication of the Montgomery Police Department, the Harriott II Crew and the help of witnesses,” and noted that the four suspects under arrest at the time of his statement “came from out-of-town to cause chaos and sow divisiveness.”
MPD investigators conducted a “frame-by-frame analysis of the videos of the brawls and extensive interviews with witnesses and the victim [Harriott II Riverboat co-captain Dameion Pickett],” the city said in a statement Friday afternoon.
“At this time, a former person of interest in connection with the boat brawl has been cleared of all criminal charges and is cooperating with the investigation,” the city’s statement added.
While the man has not been identified by name, he is seen in video as a shirtless, White man wearing a blue hat and sunglasses around his neck. A city spokesperson said the man was actually attempting to de-escalate the situation, according to testimony given by Pickett.
The city is still asking for anyone with additional video to submit it to Starcenter@montgomeryal.gov.
MPD said the incident started shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday on the dock along the Alabama River. Units responded to the 200 block of Coosa Street regarding a disturbance. On scene, officers encountered a large group of people engaged in a physical altercation.
One video shared with WSFA 12 News by a viewer, which runs approximately four minutes and 30 seconds, shows the moments leading up to the confrontation and the initial scuffle that quickly escalated.
During a press conference Tuesday, Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert said the incident began when private boat owners would not move their boat from the place where the city-owned Harriot II Riverboat docks. Attempts were made by the boat’s captain for 45 minutes by the use of a PA system. However, the private boat owners instead yelled obscenities back at the Harriot and refused to move their boat, the chief said.
The co-captain later boarded a smaller boat and went to the dock in an attempt to get the boat owners to move, which ultimately escalated into the physical confrontation.
CNN, citing court documents, reported that a witness said that racist language was hurled before the brawl started. The witness reportedly gave a sworn statement to law enforcement that the slur was said as the co-captain was trying to move the pontoon boat from the Harriott II’s docking spot.
It’s unclear exactly who is alleged to have made the slurs.
Albert previously said MPD did not believe race was a factor in the fight and that they consulted with state and federal partners who felt there was not enough information to consider the incident a hate crime.
On Friday, Mayor Reed called the investigation “fluid” and said that “at this point, the FBI has not classified these attacks as a hate crime, but the investigation is ongoing.”
While all charges are currently misdemeanors, that could change, according to statements made by the police chief during Tuesday’s briefing.
“At the time, we did not have the luxury of all the videos that we have seen now, that you and I have seen, and that the world has seen. Basically all we had were witness statements and he-said, she-said so our police officers and detectives had to decipher through all that and then apply the appropriate charges at that time,” Albert explained Tuesday. “So again, as we gain more information, as we get more video, as we talk to more individuals, if charges are meant to be amended, they will be.”
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