BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man facing an assault charge for wading into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters and throwing punches claimed he only started swinging after someone attempted to hit him first, court documents say.
Nicholas Rainwater Fry, 38, told police a protester threw a punch at him but he wasn’t sure if it connected or not. He said he responded with a couple punches but didn’t know if they landed.
He said someone in the group pepper sprayed him in the face and he flipped a folding table “in the heat of anger” as he tried to get away, according to the documents.
In reviewing video of the scuffle, police requested charges against Fry, the apparent aggressor, and no one else.
Fry is charged with misdemeanor battery in the Oct. 10 incident on Rosedale Highway, which was captured on multiple cellphones and went viral on social media. An arraignment date for Fry hadn’t been scheduled as of Wednesday morning.
Fry previously used the middle name Wayne but changed it to Rainwater, police noted.
Police were called to the intersection of Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway to a report of a fight and were told a man in his 40s and weighing 300 pounds, later identified as Fry, became enraged when a protester touched a service dog a woman walked through the area. Fry approached the protester and struck him twice in the face then fled, witnesses told police.
Officers reviewed footage of the incident and determined the protester who touched the dog used two hands to move it to the side and didn’t injure the animal, the documents say. The footage showed Fry approach the group, break a sign held by a protester and push past multiple people to get to the person who touched the dog.
Other video segments showed Fry striking the protester.
Fry, who spoke with police two days after the incident, said he stood on a knoll at the intersection near two groups, one composed of Black Lives Matter protesters, the other “Patriots” protesters supporting Donald Trump. Fry told police he wasn’t there to support either group, and was talking to a motorcycle mechanic.
Fry said he saw a woman he’s acquainted with walk her service dog by the Black Lives Matter group, and a protester reached down for the latch on the dog’s leash and pushed the dog, according to the filings.
“Fry then approached (name redacted) and told him he would kick him in the forehead if he touched the dog again,” the documents say.
A female protester held a sign that hit him in the face, Fry told police, and he took the sign from her and tried to walk around her and other protesters but they grabbed his arms. Someone then pepper sprayed him, according to Fry’s account, and it was then he threw punches.