Cellphone video captured the moment a park ranger was shoved into a lake in Austin, Texas, while giving coronavirus social distancing instructions to a crowd that was illegally smoking and drinking near the water, the Statesman reported.
The ranger was standing on a dock along Lake Austin in Commons Ford Metropolitan Park around 5 p.m. Thursday speaking to a crowd illegally drinking and smoking there, the paper said, citing an arrest affidavit.
The ranger can be heard in the video telling the crowd to disperse and observe social distancing guidelines.
“Keep that six feet of distance with each other,” he said.
Replies from the crowd included “will do” and “I got you, man” — when all of a sudden an individual is seen stepping into the camera frame and shoving the ranger in the water. Both fall into the drink, but the culprit gets out first and is seen running away.
Content warning: Language:
PARK PUSHING: Video shows a park ranger trying to get a crowd at Commons Ford Park to social distance before being pushed into Lake Austin. READ THE FULL STORY: https://t.co/JW8mzICvqD pic.twitter.com/gxiUKE20ZG
— KXAN News (@KXAN_News) May 2, 2020
Officers detained Brandon Hicks, 25, shortly after the incident — and several witnesses at the scene confirmed Hicks pushed the park ranger into the lake, Austin police Officer Justin Berry, who arrested Hicks, told the Statesman.
After the incident, Berry told the paper that parkgoers “actually came to the aid of the park ranger. Several people came up to the ranger and apologized for the guy’s behavior. That’s the Austin we know, and that’s the Austin we love.”
Police temporarily closed the park because of overcrowding after the incident, and people departed without any issues, Berry added to the Statesman.
Hicks was charged with attempted assault on a public servant — a state jail felony — and was booked into jail Friday on $7,500 bail, the paper said, adding that the charge is punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
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“Brandon’s intentional and reckless action could have caused the Ranger to strike his head on the dock as he was falling, and render himself unconscious in at least 3 feet of water where he could have drowned to death,” the affidavit added, according to KXAN-TV.
‘The park ranger was actually being really sweet’
The station added that park rangers are not law enforcement officers but do provide education about parks and recreation facilities, the paper said, citing the parks department.
The person who took the cellphone video of the incident, was glad the culprit got in trouble for pushing the park ranger into the lake, KXAN reported: “The park ranger was actually being really sweet and understanding before.”