“I went to work to work, not to be in a fight or get jumped on," Damien Pickett told 'GMA' co-anchor Robin Roberts
Damien Pickett, the deckhand assaulted in last month’s viral riverboat brawl in Montgomery, Alabama, is speaking out for the first time since the incident occurred.
Pickett, who is Black, spoke to Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts in an ABC News interview published Monday about his account of events when a brawl spilled across the deck after he confronted a group of white men about moving their pontoon boat so they could dock the Harriott II riverboat.
"I didn't expect this to happen at work today. I was expecting another peaceful, nice crew,” recalled Pickett. “I was in shock, just straight shock.”
On how the fight broke out, he explained: “It was just a lot of people that were in the way of us docking and the boats just wouldn’t move. We could’ve docked but we would end up hitting a couple of boats and be responsible for.”
"Everybody [on the riverboat] was yelling, ‘Could y'all move y'all boat?’ By the captain's orders, we got off and moved the boat. Four steps to the right, that’s it,” he continued. “Words were exchanged and 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.' ”
Pickett said the men then used “some nasty cuss words” in response. He also claimed that “alcohol [was] involved” as the men had “beers in their hands while they [were] on the dock.”
In that moment, Pickett told Roberts, 62, that he was just thinking about “the people of the boat, their safety, getting them in and getting everybody off and getting them home.”
“I’m thinking of his boat also ‘cause if I broke his boat it’s gonna sink,” he added.
Videos show Pickett arguing with a man who was asking him where the sign was to not dock there even though Pickett said he had “been there before [and] knows the rules and regulations.”
That’s when a shirtless white man rushed to punch Pickett, which sparked the melee that spilled all across the dock.
"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.
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However, Roshein "RahRah" Carlton and Aaren Hamilton-Rudolph immediately sprung to action to defend their colleague.
“Me walking up to the guys and asking them, ‘Well, why did you all jump on him like that? and he, referring to me, [goes,] ‘Who the f--- you think you are?” Carlton recalled, adding that the White men used “a lot of racial slurs.”
Hamilton-Rudolph, 16, meanwhile, jumped into the river and swam to the dock to protect Pickett. “When they first started hitting on him and no one helped, I couldn’t just watch and sit around and just let him get beat on while everybody else was just recording,” he explained.
As for how he is doing physically after the fight, Pickett told Roberts, “I'm just a little sore, little bumps and bruises here and there. But I'm here by the grace of God."
Even in the midst of the brawl, “I was still trying to get that boat in while that fight was going on. I’m still telling the captain, ‘We gotta get these folks here safely to this dock,’ ” he said.
“I went to work to work, not to be in a fight or get jumped on. It’s a cause and effect to every situation,” added Pickett.
One day after Richard Roberts, 48, turned himself over to the police and was charged with two counts of third-degree assault in August, the Montgomery Police Department (MPD) said that three others — Mary Todd, 21, Allen Todd, 23, Zachary Shipman, 25 — had turned themselves in as well. They were each charged with one count of third-degree assault but pleaded not guilty.
MPD later arrested Reggie Ray, a Black man who could be seen in videos hitting someone with a folding chair, for disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty, according to ABC News.
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