NEW ORLEANS – An Alabama man was arrested late Wednesday in connection with a video appearing to show someone in a University of Alabama jacket abusing an unconscious Louisiana State University fan after Alabama beat LSU for the BCS football championship.
Brian Downing, 32, of Smiths Station, Ala., was booked on charges of sexual battery and obscenity.
That videotape, the last minute of which shows a man in a red Alabama jacket simulating a sex act on an LSU fan that appears to be heavily inebriated, went viral on the Internet.
Police said sex crimes detectives met Downing at his attorney’s office in New Orleans, where offices arrested him. Downing looked at the ground as officers escorted him in handcuffs into the jail. Neither he nor the officers answered questions.
Downing’s actions were videotaped about 11:45 p.m. Jan. 9, at a restaurant on Bourbon Street, police said.
They said LSU and Alabama University campus police helped them collect information and evidence needed to get a warrant for Downing’s arrest.
Downing is a second cousin of Russell County, Ala., Sheriff Heath Taylor, who on Thursday said Downing was on his way from Alabama to New Orleans to surrender.
Taylor told The AP that he learned from other family members that Downing had been identified as the man shown exposing himself above the head of an apparently unconscious man in an LSU-purple shirt. Taylor said he had not seen the video or asked Downing about the case.
After hearing from his relatives, Taylor said, he called Downing’s dad and told him to bring him to the sheriff’s office in Phenix City, Ala. He said he then called New Orleans police to ask whether they wanted him to jail and extradite Downing or send him to New Orleans to surrender. “New Orleans made that call,” he said.
Taylor said that when he heard the allegation, he had no choice but to arrest Downing or send him to New Orleans. “I wasn’t going to let anybody say that because he’s my family I wasn’t doing anything about it.”
It wasn’t a hard decision, he said. “You’ve just got to do the right thing.”