More than two months after a group of white boaters attacked a Black riverboat captain in Montgomery, Ala., two of five people charged in connection with the racially charged melee pleaded guilty on Friday.
The violent scene, which bystanders captured on video, drew an overwhelming social media response and prompted a broader discourse about race in America.
Richard Roberts, 48, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, against Dameion Pickett, the boat captain.
Mr. Roberts was ordered to serve 32 days of a four-month suspended jail sentence in a Perry County facility on weekends and complete 100 hours of community service, according to court records.
Mr. Roberts also pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor assault against Daniel Warren, a 16-year-old deckhand on the boat with Mr. Pickett, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.
The newspaper reported that Mr. Roberts apologized in court on Friday to the teenager and then to Mr. Pickett, saying: “I’m sorry we met up like we did. I know you don’t believe it, but if we had met under different circumstances, we probably could have been friends.”
Mary Todd, 21, also pleaded guilty in the episode with Mr. Pickett. Ms. Todd was originally charged with one count of third-degree assault that was reduced to a charge of harassment. Ms. Todd was ordered to attend an anger management class, according to court records.
The altercation on Aug. 5 began at the city’s popular Riverfront Park. A pontoon boat was docked in a space designated for the Harriott II, a riverboat cruise co-captained by Mr. Pickett.
For 45 minutes, the captain of the Harriott II instructed the pontoon boat via a public announcement system to move out of the way. Instead, the boaters responded with gestures, cursing and taunting, officials said, and did not move the pontoon boat.
Mr. Pickett was then given a ride on a smaller boat to the dock so that he could talk with the pontoon boat owners.
When Mr. Pickett, who is Black, tried to move the pontoon, its owners, who are white, confronted and attacked him. Members of the riverboat crew and bystanders came to Mr. Pickett’s defense, and a melee broke out.
Five people involved in the brawl, including Mr. Roberts and Ms. Todd, turned themselves in to the police, officials said. The proceedings for the three other individuals charged in the case are set for November.
One of the defendants, Reggie Ray, who is seen in footage wielding a folding chair and striking a white man and a white woman with it, is Black. While the fight appeared to be largely drawn along racial lines, the police said at the time that they would not pursue hate crime charges.