The Black boat captain who was attacked by white boaters in a wild dockside brawl captured in viral video was accused of assault in connection with the Alabama melee, officials said Thursday.
Dameion Pickett, whom police have identified as co-captain of the Harriott II riverboat, was summoned to appear before a magistrate on Nov. 21 on allegations of assault in the third degree, a Montgomery court clerk said.
Video showed Pickett appearing to argue with boaters after asking them to make way for his craft on Aug. 5.
A shirtless white man is then seen forcefully shoving Pickett in the chest before taking a swing at the captain’s face, touching off the wild melee. Several other shirtless white men surrounded Pickett and joined the fracas.
Pickett’s family said they’ve been told that the charge stems from allegations that the captain punched another man, Zachary Shipman.
Shipman has claimed he “had nothing to do with” the brawl and was trying to stop one of his friends from fighting, according to the captain’s sister, Nicole Pickett.
In Alabama, a person can make a misdemeanor complaint and have a magistrate issue a summons for an accused person to answer, a police spokesman said.
“Neither the City nor the Montgomery Police Department filed these charges,” said the joint statement from the mayor and the police chief. “The Montgomery Police Department’s investigation only lists Mr. Pickett as a victim.”
Shipman, though, is being charged with assault in the third degree, according to a court clerk.
Shipman could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.
But even if Shipman were an innocent bystander or a peacekeeper, Pickett’s family insists, it would be unreasonable to think their loved one should have paused under the circumstances to consider who was around him before defending himself.