Tarrant City Council member Tommy Bryant was arrested Monday after he reportedly attacked Mayor Wayman Newton, according to the mayor.
The incident happened following Monday’s City Council meeting.
Newton said he went to speak to Police Chief Wendell Major when he said the 78-year-old Bryant accosted him.
“He started attacking me and verbally assaulting me,’’ Newton said. “We exchanged words and and then he came at me. He sucker-punched me.”
Newton said he was punched in the face. “It’s sore,’’ he said.
In a Facebook post, Tarrant police said Bryant struck Newton “in the presence of several witnesses, including Chief Wendell Major.”
Bryant was arrested and taken to the Jefferson County Jail, where he was booked on a harassment charge. He was booked into the county lockup at 9:56 p.m. and released at 11:37 p.m. after posting $1,000 bond.
Newton said he believes the charge should be assault. “And it wasn’t a simple assault,’’ he said.
Asked what they exchanged words about, Newton said it happened so fast he didn’t immediately recall. “He’d (Bryant) been on one all night,’’ he said. “He’d made veiled threats against me,’’ prior to the assault.
Bryant and Newton have been at odds since Newton was elected as the city’s first Black mayor.
In August 2021, Newton was arrested after Bryant signed a misdemeanor warrant against him for harassing communications.
In that 2021 case, Bryant accused Newton of shouting an expletive – “F#*&”- several times, and then, “F#*& your wife” multiple times and finally saying, “I’m going to F#*& your wife” several times as well as some other sexually explicit comments.
“Tommy Bryant is an unapologetic bigot who is a cancer to the City of Tarrant and my administration,’’ Newton said at the time. “I am confident that the baseless harassment claim he has filed against me will be thrown out.”
Since he was sworn in, Newton has been met with resistance from a majority of the city council and some department heads.
On his first day in office, Newton had a confrontation with the now-retired police chief, Dennis Reno, over his request for Tarrant to hire more Black police officers.
Reno filed a misdemeanor assault charge against Newton, claiming he slammed his arm in the door. Newton later released video of Reno leaving the meeting, which he said disproved Reno’s claim of an assault.
Also in 2021, The Alabama Democratic Party called Bryant to resign after the lawmaker used the phrase “house n—–” during a council meeting, leading to widespread condemnation.
“Do we have a house n—- in here?” Bryant asked during the council meeting, which was recorded. “Do we? Do we?”
The councilman later said he was only repeating what Newton called City Councilwoman Veronica Freeman.
One of the items that was set for tonight’s council meeting was a resolution authored by Bryant to reinstate the city’s fire chief who was fired in 2021 after he was charged with pulling a gun an Atlanta realtor.
All charges against Jason Rickels in Georgia were dropped by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
The resolution calls for reinstating Rickels, who Newton fired, with full back pay and benefits until a hearing could be held by the council.
The mayor posted his thought’s about Bryant’s resolution on Facebook last week: “Tarrant City Council reinstating a fire chief who was terminated for pulling a gun on a black realtor at his house in Georgia is probably not a wise decision. But what do I know? I’m just the mayor.”