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TARRANT, Ala. (WIAT) — A member of the Tarrant City Council was acquitted of assaulting Tarrant Mayor Wayman Newton in an ongoing dispute between the two politicians.
Tommy Bryant, who serves on the council, was found not guilty of third-degree assault on Monday during a trial. The order came months after Bryant and Newton, who have had a rocky relationship since Newton was first elected in 2020, had an argument following a meeting last November. The argument then escalated into Bryant hitting Newton, allegedly over insults he made about his wife.
Bryant was subsequently arrested and charged with harassment, which was upgraded to third-degree assault.
“The Court is of the opinion that any ‘reasonable person’ would consider the words stated to the defendant regarding his wife, as ‘fighting words,’” a court order from District Judge Katrina Ross read.
Bryant had previously stirred controversy when he used a racial slur during a council meeting in reference to another council member. This controversy stemmed over allegations Bryant made that Newton had used the epithet himself.
After that, Bryant was escorted from a council meeting after comparing the city clerk to “a pig” and telling Newton to “shut your mouth.”
Newton himself has also been at odds with Bryant and other city officials. In August 2021, Newton was arrested and charged with harassment after Bryant alleged that he had used “repeated expletives towards the councilman,” as well as “sexual comments about Bryant’s wife.”
In June 2021, former Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno reported that Newton had closed a door on his arm. Newton was subsequently arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault charges.