It’s a startling sight caught on video: Two men inside a pro golf shop engaged in an all-out brawl — one of them a longtime aide to and cousin of Democratic State Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia.
The fight happened Nov. 10 at the Club at Shannondell in Audubon, Montgomery County. Video of the altercation surfaced earlier this week after local TV stations began airing it.
Unfortunately, there’s no audio. So, some of the details are in dispute.
On Wednesday morning, I spoke with Williams, who is not accused of wrongdoing and he gave me his version of events. He said a group of about eight golfers he’d been playing with became frustrated by the light rain and slow pace of action on the course. So, he requested a refund, which was denied. He left the shop. Afterward, his aide Jonathan D. Williams reportedly made a similar request from the same employee, who turned him down as well.
Sen. Williams said his cousin told him he had asked to see a manager and was told: “There is no manager. I’m the manager.” The two men went back and forth verbally when, according to the senator, the manager told his cousin, “Plus, I’ve already given you monkeys a discount and I’m not going to give you a rain check.”
“And so my cousin said, ‘What did you say?’ [The employee] said, ‘You heard me and get the f— out.’ And then my cousin said, ‘Get me the f— out.’”
At one point on the video, you see Hunter Wagner, the store employee, come from behind a counter and walk toward the aide before the tussle begins.
Wagner’s lawyer denies that his client made a racial slur.
“My client … categorically denies making any racial comment whatsoever,” said Nathan J. Schadler. “He 100% denies saying anything that was racial or anything racial in nature.”
Schadler also added: “This matter has been around for seven months. There has been a preliminary hearing in this matter. There has been an answer filed by the defendant in the civil case to our action. This is the very first time anything is coming up regarding this allegation.”
Lower Providence Police Chief Michael Jackson said something similar: “At no point in time during the investigation nor the preliminary hearing were police officers from this department made aware of any racial slur being used during this incident. I invite anyone with additional information relating to this incident to contact the Lower Providence Township Police Department at 610-539-5901.”
According to the civil suit, Wagner was working an afternoon shift when Sen. Williams and then his aide demanded refunds. The senator walked away after his request was denied. The aide, though, screamed at Wagner before punching him in the face with a closed fist. Wagner says he tried to tackle the aide, who delivered about a dozen jabs. He says he suffered physically and mentally in the aftermath. He is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
In addition to the civil suit, which was filed in May, the aide faces criminal charges of simple assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment. Jonathan Williams’ attorney, Joshua Rudolph, declined comment, citing the ongoing civil and criminal litigation.
“I can tell you that I am upset that that video was leaked before we received it in discovery on either case,” he said.
Timothy Greene was with Sen. Williams’ group on the day of the incident. He can be seen on video attempting to break up the brawl, and he claims to have heard Wagner utter the insult as well.
“In so many words he said, ‘I’m tired of y’all monkeys coming up in here acting this way. Y’all need to get out,’” Greene said of Wagner. “I think I said, ‘Are you serious? I’m a 20-year vet, a WNBA referee, and you’re going to talk to me in this manner?”
I asked him why police had not been told about the alleged racial aspect of the assault.
“The police officer, he never asked me,” Greene said. “They basically took our information and told us to go ahead and go”
As for Sen. Williams, he said he felt compelled to speak out publicly so people would know there’s more to what happened than what was caught on video.