AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — A man who was captured on video appearing to push a Texas park ranger into a lake while the ranger was explaining social distancing says he feels “embarrassed about his actions,” according to his attorney.
A video that gained attention after it was posted on social media includes the moment a young man pushes the ranger into a lake at Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park in Austin, Texas last Thursday afternoon.READ MORE: Judge Begins Key Hearing On Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Plan
Brandon Hicks, 25, faces a charge of attempted assault on a public servant, a state jail felony, said the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
According to an arrest affidavit, ranger Cassidy Stillwell was talking to a crowd of people, described as “unlawfully drinking and smoking,” on a dock near Lake Austin. It’s unclear from the affidavit whether Hicks was part of that group mentioned in the affidavit.
Amid the cross talk in the video, Stillwell is heard telling the crowd on the dock to “disperse yourselves” in the grassy area nearby because they were not maintaining physical distance of six feet. Some respond with “Will do” and “I got you, man.”
The ranger’s instructions are interrupted when the man pushes him into the shallow, murky water. The ranger holds on to the man’s arm and pulls him in, the video shows. The man, clad in a swimsuit, scrambles out of the water and rushes away.
Attorney Mark Hull told CNN in a statement Monday he looks forward to telling Hicks’ side of the story.
“He is embarrassed about his actions and has the utmost respect for law enforcement, particularly during these unprecedented times,” Hull said.
An eyewitness who shot the video said that park visitors were closer to each other than they should have been.READ MORE: Texas Man Gregory Gabrisch Dies In Hunting Accident In Southwest Colorado
“(The ranger) was just telling us to spread apart to keep our distance and honestly was being super reasonable and understanding,” said the witness, who did not want to be named.
The officer who submitted the affidavit said the ranger could have struck 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.”
Kimberly McNeeley, director of parks and recreation for Austin, released a statement about the need for support for the park rangers.
“Rangers are not law enforcement officers. The Ranger program was created to provide educational services, safety, and security in Austin’s parks and recreational facilities. Through these actions, Rangers help protect and foster stewardship of the natural world.
Our Rangers continue to engage residents on the proper use of park facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We ask that the public treat Rangers with the same respect they wish to be shown to themselves. Public support is essential for Austin to meet the challenges of this pandemic.”
Hull says his client is out on $7,500 bond and his next court date is June 19. He said it was too early in the case to determine how Hicks will plea. A person found guilty of a state jail felony faces a sentence of 180 days to two years.
As a result of the incident, rangers have been told to approach groups in teams of two, said city parks communications and engagement manager John Nixon.MORE NEWS: Warrant Issued For Dallas Police Officer Jacob Hughes, Accused Of Fabricating Evidence
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