Donald Ray Dickerson violently punched a St. Francisville man to the ground outside a north Baton Rouge convenience store and refused to back down even after the man was bleeding profusely and unable to defend himself, two witnesses to the Mother’s Day 2013 melee testified Wednesday.
Latasha Henderson and Dan Williams Jr. both said they saw a black man with dreadlocks — later identified as Dickerson — wearing blue jeans and a red shirt strike David Ray III, a white man sporting a pink shirt, as Ray stood in line to buy gas at Stadium Chevron on Scenic Highway near Memorial Stadium.
Henderson said she was pumping gas that night when she noticed the two men apparently arguing just outside the store.
“I don’t know what was said. I saw the guy in the red shirt punch the man very hard. He knocked him off his feet,” she testified at Dickerson’s second-degree battery trial. “I started screaming, ‘Won’t somebody help! Won’t somebody help!’ ”
Henderson said another man — Williams — tried to subdue Ray’s attacker “but the guy in the red shirt got even crazier.”
Williams said Ray fell “lifeless” into his arms after Dickerson punched him.
Before the punching started, Williams said, he heard Ray say, “Do you feel threatened by a guy in a pink shirt?” Williams said Dickerson replied, “You ain’t going to talk to me like that. Do you know where you’re at?”
Ray testified Tuesday that Dickerson told him he was “in the wrong neighborhood” and wasn’t going to make it out.
The jury trial will resume Thursday. State District Judge Lou Daniel is presiding over the case.
After Dickerson knocked Ray to the ground, Williams said, he grabbed Dickerson and escorted him to a white Jeep. Dickerson, he said, vomited outside the Jeep.
Henderson and Williams said Ray’s wife and eldest daughter rushed to Ray’s side, but Angela Ray was punched to the ground and Chaney Ray, 14 years old at the time, was punched in the jaw.
Williams said Dickerson then tried to re-engage in the melee. Dickerson was “not givin’ up,” he said.
Devin Bessye and Ashley Simmons were issued summonses for simple battery, a misdemeanor, for allegedly striking Ray’s wife and daughter. The officers who decided not to book Bessye and Simmons into Parish Prison were counseled for an “error in judgment,” Police Chief Carl Dabadie has said.
Chaney Ray testified Wednesday that Dickerson is the man who punched her father. She said she never saw her dad throw a punch at Dickerson. The 11th-grader said she jumped out of the family’s car and called police while her father was on the ground bleeding. She said Dickerson approached her while she was on the phone.
“He kept saying he didn’t do anything wrong. I said, ‘You just did this to my dad,’ ” she testified.
Chaney Ray said she was punched while trying to pull a woman off of her mother.
“My mom was knocked down and there was a woman on top of her punching her,” she said. “My mom was trying to cover up her face because the lady was punching her.”
Henderson said she called 911 and followed the Jeep that Dickerson and two others got into until police pulled it over on Winbourne Avenue. Dickerson, Bessye and Simmons were in the Jeep.
Benard Blair, one of Dickerson’s attorneys, railed at Jacob Butler, the lead detective on the case, for not arresting Bessye and Simmons for second-degree battery.
“You see a black guy with dreadlocks and it’s gotta be the guy,” Blair shouted with Butler on the witness stand.
Butler, who said race played no part in the investigation, testified the totality of the probe indicated Dickerson started the fight.
“It all pointed to Dickerson,” he said. “David Ray was not the aggressor in this incident.”
Dickerson, 43, of Baton Rouge, had recently been released from federal prison at the time of the alleged attack. He could be sentenced as a habitual offender to life in prison if found guilty of second-degree battery.