Charges filed, defendants, victims named, race determined not a factor in connection with Riverfront brawl
Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023
The Montgomery Police Department (MPD) named three Dallas County residents as defendants in the Saturday evening Riverfront Park brawl. Warrants were issued against the men, and one has turned himself in to the Selma Police Department while the other two are reportedly in route to the jail.
In a Tuesday press conference, Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert identified the defendants as Richard Roberts, 48, Allen Todd, 23, and Zachary Chase Shipman, 25.
According to Albert, the department issued two warrants on charges of third-degree assault for Roberts, a white male. Todd and Shipman, also white males, were each issued a warrant for third degree assault – all misdemeanor charges by statute.
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“We have instructed these individuals to turn themselves in to law enforcement and at this time, one is secured and in custody,” Albert said. “The other two are set to turn themselves in within the next hour.”
Albert also identified Reggie Gray, a 42-year-old black male, as a person of interest. Gray, identified as the individual wielding a folding chair in the viral video from the incident, has been requested to contact MPD for further interviews.
Victims were identified as the Harriet II Co-Captain Damien Pickett, a black male who was attacked by several members of a private boat, and a 16-year-old white male juvenile who was struck by the owners and operators of the boat.
The police chief explained what is currently known about the Aug. 5 fistfight which took place just steps away from the Alabama River water’s edge. On Saturday, the Harriet II carried 227 passengers and attempted to enter its designated docking space, which was occupied by a private boat.
For approximately 40 minutes, Pickett attempted to contact the boat’s owners via a PA (public announcement) system, and was reportedly met with obscene gestures, curse words, and taunting. Pickett was transported to the dock in another separate vessel and attempted to have a conversation with the boat’s owners.
Police received the first call for assistance at 7 p.m. and additional calls followed at 7:15 p.m. A confrontation ensued and Pickett was attacked by several members of the private boat.
“There were words exchanged and then it turned into a fist encounter as you’ve all seen [on video],” Albert said. “[Pickett] was doing his job. He was simply trying to move the boat in just enough to where the cruise ship can park safely in its identified location.”
Riverboat passengers attempted to aid Pickett. Officers arrived at the scene around 7:18 p.m. and shortly thereafter detained 13 individuals who were taken to police headquarters for questioning.
“All parties involved were released pending further investigation,” Albert said. “All were given instructions on how to secure warrants on combatants.”
During the conference, Albert fielded questions related to the motive behind the incident and whether actions taken that day may have been racially motivated.
“I can tell you we looked at every avenue,” Albert said. “There we examined this over a period of time, not only that night, but since that night. At this time, based on the way the statute is read and the way the law is crafted we were unable to present any inciting a riot or racially biased charges at this time.”
Montgomery PD is working with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), the Montgomery District Attorney, and the local Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) office.
Albert asserted the department will continue the investigation and identify any additional persons involved.
“The investigation is ongoing, and more charges are likely,” Albert said. “We have many interviews to conduct. We’re going to ask everyone that we previously interviewed as well as viewing the videos we received as we identify additional folks that we need to talk to.
“The people in Montgomery, we’re better than that. We are a fun city, and we don’t want this type of activity to shed a dark eye on what the city is all about.”
Witnesses are encouraged to send in any video or evidence related to the case. Videos can be submitted at email@example.com or by calling the secret witness line at (334) 625-4000.