JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Days after a woman told News4JAX a man used racist language before he attacked her on Monday inside an Arlington gas station, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced it has made an arrest in the case.
Kevin Troy Williamson, 59, was arrested Friday and is charged with misdemeanor battery, police said. He appeared before a judge on the charge Saturday and was ordered to be held on $20,000 bond and to not have any contact with the victim or witnesses or return to the gas station where the incident occurred.
NOTE: News4JAX does not typically release the names and mugshots of those charged with misdemeanors but we did in this case because of the notoriety the incident has received.
Attack caught on video
The attack that happened on Monday at a gas station on University Boulevard was recorded from store surveillance video and shared with News4JAX by the 23-year-old victim, Rayme McCoy, who is Black.
McCoy said she walked into the gas station near her home and was followed by an older white man who was already involved in an argument with someone outside.
McCoy said the man was “ranting and raving” and using racist language and at one point, the man walked toward the counter where McCoy was standing and she asked him to back up. That’s when the man said he had a gun in his car, McCoy said.
“So at that point, I felt threatened,” McCoy said. “He put his beers on the counter in front of my stuff and I slid them over and at that point, that’s when he started punching me in the face.”
Video shared with News4JAX, which does not contain audio of the exchange, shows the man with a mustache and a green shirt punching McCoy in the face at least 10 times before he walks out of the store. The video was also posted on social media and shared thousands of times.
JSO makes an arrest
McCoy said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded and the clerk gave an officer the man’s license plate number.
JSO said the investigation led to Williamson being identified as the man in the video.
An arrest warrant was obtained through the State Attorney’s Office, and he was arrested Friday.
“Sometimes in the law, I can do it quick, or I can do it right. But sometimes I can’t do both,” said attorney Randy Reep, who is not affiliated with the case. “I’m not apologizing for the four days it takes, but I would tell you, that’s not outrageous in my experience.”
After the arrest was made, News4JAX looked into Williamson’s background. Court records show he is a registered sex offender and had a repeat domestic violence injunction filed against him that was later dismissed.
There were two aggravated assault charges -- both were dropped -- one of them was with a deadly weapon.
During his first appearance on Saturday, Williamson pointed to his faithfully following the rules as a sex offender as a reason the judge should release him without bond.
“Ma’am, could I speak a moment? I request that maybe you could lower my bond to nothing because I’m not a flight risk. I’ve fulfilled, for 33 years, the state’s registration requirements. Never missed. I’m down to I got 2 and ¾ years left and they’re going to relieve me of that. Of course, I go to court,” Williamson said.
The judge responded that she’s glad he’s going through with his requirements but that she can’t fulfill his request.
“Yes, Ma’am. Just thought I’d ask you,” Williamson said. “Have a wonderful day, Ma’am.”
What should bystanders do?
After the attack Monday, McCoy said she was left feeling dizzy and had cuts and bruises on her face so she went to a local hospital to get checked out.
Some people commented on this story questioning why no one intervened to try and help McCoy.
Reep said as a bystander there is no obligation to intervene in a criminal act.
“Not as a human but as a lawyer, the advice I would give them is dial 911. Those are the people with the training and experience to handle that when you intervene in somebody else’s conflict, you are buying all the problems that come with that, and you don’t know enough necessarily to jump in,” said Reep.
Hate crime charge?
Because of the racist remarks Williamson was heard making, some have asked whether the battery should be considered a hate crime.
On the report, JSO wrote down there was no hate crime. Reep said it’s up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide if they’ll pursue that charge.
“So the battery is an unwanted touching -- that is easy to convince a jury of in this case. That woman did not invite the punches that she received,” Reep said. “But if you add in the hate crime element, like we saw in the Mr. Arbery case up in Georgia, you’re adding in now a racial animus as the motivating factor to do that battery -- it becomes a harder thing to prove. There’s a new element in the story to prove.”
Reep said they’ll interview witnesses and in two to three weeks the State Attorney will decide on the final charges.
He says not to be surprised if this case is bumped up to a felony.
McCoy said on Thursday that she wants more than a battery charge in this case and that she knows this was a hate crime. We reached out to her Saturday to follow up after the arrest was announced.
The Northside Coalition sent a statement, saying it was on behalf of McCoy’s family:
“We are relieved to know that this man was arrested and for the sake of public safety we are very concerned that he be kept behind bars! We are hopeful that State Attorney Melissa Nelson will ensure that this racially motivated attack is prosecuted as a hate crime and not merely as a simple battery or assault. Ms. Rayme McCoy was singled out because of her race and the color of her skin by a man spouting racial epithets.
Unfortunately, JSO procrastinated in the apprehension and arrest of Mr. Kevin Williamson. Our Sheriff should have moved more quickly.
We are hopeful that the State Attorney Nelson will move swiftly to prosecute this vicious attack as a hate crime.”