Two Williams students engaged in a fist fight in front of St. Pierre’s Barbershop on Spring St., as witnessed by an officer of the Williamstown Police Department (WPD). The fight took place at approximately 2:12 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, according to a press release issued by the WPD.
Two additional officers were dispatched to the scene as back-ups. The fight was immediately broken up, and two Williams sophomores arrested.
One student suffered minimal abrasions to his mouth and hands, and both were indicted on charges of assault and battery and being a disorderly person. One student was also indicted on the charge of possession of a fake driver’s license, after a counterfeit Maine driver’s license was discovered in a procedural police search.
The motive of the altercation is unclear, but both individuals were under the influence of alcohol. The students said that the fight was little more than friendly roughhousing and was misconstrued by the police.
“[We] were walking up Spring Street, and we started lightly roughhousing,” the student said. “This whole thing lasted no more than twenty seconds. Our friendly pushing was perceived by the police [as] a fight. We were separated before they came over and arrested us. Everybody there was like, ?for what, they were just kidding around.’”
Both students emphasized that they were friends and said “there was no fight; just kids horsing around with each other.”
In addition, the two alleged that the officers involved exaggerated the seriousness of the event and acted unprofessionally, making inappropriate comments. The students did not wish to comment publicly on the officers’ alleged remarks but said they were serious enough to warrant a possible complaint.
Arthur Parker, chief of the WPD, was personally informed by one of the officers involved in the matter that “no inappropriate comments were made to the students.” Nevertheless, Parker reiterated that “if any inappropriate comments were made by the officers that morning, a complaint should be filed by the individuals, and a thorough investigation will take place.”
Chief Parker contacted the officers via e-mail to inform them that “there is no place in this department for inappropriate comments, regardless of an individual’s personal opinion.”
At present, neither student has filed a complaint against the officers. Thus Chief Parker is unable to determine whether or not his officers made these alleged statements. “[Until a thorough investigation occurs], we are just dealing with rumors,” Parker said.
The officers were unavailable for comment.
Dave Boyer, associate director of security, said that “students here at Williams College must be and are accountable for their behavior on and off campus; consequently, the wrongful actions of students are subject to disciplinary punishment by the College.”
Boyer has had an informational conversation with the students involved, but as of now, no disciplinary action on the behalf of the College has been brought against the parties involved. Stephen Sneed, an associate dean of the College, said that the matter is currently under the consideration of the Office of the Dean.
“The details surrounding this matter, like all issues that are brought to the attention of the Office of the Dean, are confidential due to the situation’s nature and out of respect for the individuals involved,” Sneed said.
The WPD detained the students and released them later that morning on their own personal recognizance. The two students are awaiting their arraignment before the Northern Berkshire District Court.