After appearing exonerated in the Jan. 20 incident by a YouTube video, James Lewis McCoy was briefly booked into jail last week before again being released. But charges still could be brought forward.
Shortly after the Atlanta Falcons’ season ended with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, reports surfaced that McCoy, 46, had been arrested for a stabbing another man during a football-related argument.
It was later learned McCoy had not been arrested and that he hadn’t attended the game.
McCoy’s attorney, Mac Pilgrim, said his client was acting in self-defense.
“Mr. McCoy did nothing wrong and I think the video that has surfaced clearly shows that,” Pilgrim said at the time. “He was in danger and he did defend himself the best way that he could and, still, that didn’t end the attack. Fortunately for him, there was an officer who saw enough to corroborate the truth about this attack and now the video also shows the same thing.”
The story appeared to be over, but last week Georgia World Congress Center authorities contacted Pilgrim, saying warrants would be placed for McCoy’s arrest. Those warrants were filed Tuesday afternoon, and McCoy turned himself into the Fulton County jail late last week.
According to Pilgrim, jail officers called McCoy’s wife just three hours after his booking and told her he would be released.
“She called and asked what she should do,” said Pilgrim. “I said, ‘go pick him up.’ He later called me and said there was some sort of discussion inside the jail about whether he was staying or going. It was a question of proper paperwork and if the warrants were correct. Somebody told him he could leave and he didn’t ask twice.”
Pilgrim acknowledged that even he is confused as to what is happening with his client, but confirmed that McCoy could still be brought back on the charges.
“At this point we don’t know, we are playing it by ear,” he said. “As always, Mr. McCoy has been forthright in this matter. He turned himself into authorities the first day he could.”
Video that surfaced in the days after the incident shows a mob of people attacking McCoy, with one man continuously punching him and several other people also landing punches after joining in. McCoy then reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a box cutter to defend himself. The fight was later broken up when police shot pepper spray into the crowd.
Pilgrim said he would like to see charges brought against some of McCoy’s attackers.
“McCoy was the victim here,” he said.
Though it has been more than a month since the incident, Pilgrim said his goal has not changed.
“We look forward to the day we can clear his name,” said Pilgrim. “I think he has a viable case of self-defense.”
Attempts to reach Georgia World Congress Center authorities for comment were not successful.