Dock worker assaulted in Alabama brawl speaks out in 'GMA' exclusive

Dameion Pickett spoke out in an interview with 'GMA' co-anchor Robin Roberts

ByNicole Curits, Deena Zaru, Vera Drymon ABCNews logo
Monday, September 25, 2023
Dock worker assaulted in Montgomery boat dock fight speaks out in 'GMA' exclusive
Dock worker assaulted in Montgomery brawl speaks out in 'GMA.'

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Nearly two months after a brawl at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama, went viral, Dameion Pickett, a dock worker who was at the center of the melee after he was assaulted by a group of boaters, spoke out about the incident in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America."

Pickett, who is the lead deckhand of the Harriot II, reflected on what led up to the altercation and told "GMA" co-anchor Robin Roberts that he was just "just doing my job" and was "just in shock" when he was violently attacked.

"I didn't expect this to happen at work today," Pickett said. "I was just expecting another peaceful, nice cruise."

According to Pickett, as the Harriott II was ending a dinner cruise and getting ready to dock, a private pontoon boat was illegally parked in its place, preventing the riverboat from docking safely.

"We could have docked, but we would end up hitting a couple of those boats and be responsible for it," Pickett said.

According to Pickett and witnesses aboard the Harriett II who spoke with ABC News, crew members made several attempts to ask the owner of the pontoon boat to move it, but their calls were ignored.

"Everybody was yelling, "Could y'all move y'all boat?" Pickett said.

It was then that Pickett said he got off the riverboat "by the captain's orders" and went to move the pontoon boat himself.

"Really just moved it about one, two, four-- four steps to the right, that's it," he said.

"I was, like, 'I'm just doing my job ... After we dock, we don't mind y'all staying there but not at this time while we're trying to dock,'" he added.

Moments after Pickett moved the boat, videos show that he was confronted and punched by a man and soon after, others attacked Pickett and were later identified by police as a boat owner and his family.

Pickett said that after he was assaulted, he had to defend himself.

"This man just put his hand on me. I was, like ... it's my job, but I'm still defending myself at the same time. So when he touched me, I was, like, 'It's on,'" Pickett said.

According to videos captured by bystanders and obtained by ABC News, the incident led to a massive brawl that started between the individuals who attacked Pickett, all of whom were white, prompting several Black eyewitnesses to join a fight in an apparent attempt to defend Pickett, including a viral video of a teenager later identified as Aaren Hamilton-Rudolph swimming to the dock to defend him.

Hamilton-Rudolph, a 16-year-old who was only on his second week on the job, reflected on what made him swim to Pickett's defense in an interview with "GMA."

"Everybody was just recording. No one helped," Hamilton-Rudolph said. "So I couldn't just watch and sit around and just let him get beat on while everybody else is just recording and watching."

Roshein "RahRah" Carlton, Pickett's coworker and friend, also rushed to his defense.

"It's our duty as-- as our coworker, as a team, to go and aid and assist him," Carlton told "GMA."

Pickett said that "some nasty words" were directed at him when he got attacked, while Carlton claimed that he heard "a lot of racial slurs" being used during the incident.

The incident was investigated by the Montgomery Police Department, leading to misdemeanor assault charges against four white individuals, all of whom are now out on bond and set to appear in court for a hearing this week.

Montgomery Police Department Chief Darryl Albert identified Pickett and an unnamed 16-year-old white male who was allegedly struck by the owners and operators of the private boat as victims in this case during a press conference on Aug. 7.

The incident led to charges against five individuals.

Richard Roberts was charged with two counts of assault in the third degree, court records show. Meanwhile, Allen Todd, Zachary Shipman and Mary Todd were all charged with assault in the third degree. All have pleaded not guilty.

ABC News has attempted to reach out to the suspects and their attorneys, but requests for comment were not returned.

A fifth arrest was made days later when Reggie Ray, a Black man who was seen attacking someone with a beach chair in a viral video, was charged with disorderly conduct. He also pleaded not guilty.

Ray's attorney, Lee Merritt, told ABC News that his client had a "limited role" in the brawl and was "involuntarily roped into the disorderly conduct initiated by a violent white mob."

Asked if there's any evidence of a hate crime, Albert said that police "looked at every avenue" and left "no stone unturned" but "were unable to present any insight in a riot or racial racially biased charges at this time."

A spokesperson for the Montgomery Police Department told ABC News on Friday that there are no additional updates to share regarding the investigation.

Pickett told Roberts that all he wanted to do was make sure that the Harriott II, which was carrying more than 200 passengers at the time, was able to dock safely.

"I had a responsibility," he said. "I was still trying to get that boat in while the fight was still going on. I'm still telling the captain, 'We gotta get these folks here safely to this dock.'"

Asked how he was doing after the incident, Pickett said, "I'm just a little-- a little sore, little bumps and bruises here and there. But I'm here by the grace of God."