James Lewis McCoy, 46, of Villa Rica, allegedly slashed another man in the neck after the Falcons lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Jan. 20 outside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Initial reports were that the incident took place during an argument.
The fight took place around 6:40 p.m. in the Dome’s silver parking lot. At first, it was thought the event was football related, but it was later learned that McCoy hadn’t attended in the game. Georgia Dome spokesman Jason Kirksey said the argument apparently was over food at a tailgate party.
But Villa Rica attorney Mac Pilgrim, who is representing McCoy, said that despite earlier reports McCoy was never arrested. He credited police near the scene for keeping his client from being unfairly rushed to judgment in what he called a gang attack outside the Dome.
“Mr. McCoy did nothing wrong and I think the video that has surfaced clearly shows that,” Pilgrim said. “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.
“In the state of Georgia, you have the right to defend yourself and that is all that Mr. McCoy did that day,” Pilgrim said.
McCoy was cited for disorderly conduct, but Pilgrim said he fully expects that citation to be dropped as details continue to become apparent.
“He had been downtown at the game outside the stadium, but he didn’t go in,” said Pilgrim, who met with Georgia World Congress Center police and McCoy to discuss the incident. “He had been enjoying some outdoor activities. Some people set up makeshift tailgates and he purchased food from them. McCoy watched the game with no issue and no altercations. When it ended a gentleman, possibly the cook, stepped from behind the table, placed his hand on McCoy’s chest and told him to get out in not so nice terms.”
From there, a group attacked McCoy, apparently leaving him with lumps on the back of his legs, bruises on his chest and spitting up blood. After 15 to 20 seconds, McCoy was able to reach for the knife in his pocket and slash at one of the men before police scattered the scene with pepper spray.
Though McCoy is a 49ers fan, he said he had watched the game without cheering in order to avoid trouble.
McCoy’s injuries were not serious enough to land him in the hospital. Pilgrim did not know why it was reported by Georgia Dome authorities that McCoy was arrested.
“He called my office that night and we spoke the next day,” Pilgrim said. “I spoke with his wife; he wanted to turn himself in.”
Pilgrim said the men who fought with McCoy were drunk and upset about the loss, and were possibly out looking for a fight. Pilgrim said his client had consumed no alcohol that day. The box cutter, he said, is something McCoy carries with him every day because of his job as a maintenance man.
“Out of habit he puts the knife in his pocket on a daily basis,” said Pilgrim. “The way some people put their wallet in a certain pocket, their watch on a certain arm — it’s routine. He took it down there with no intentions of hurting anyone.”
The 35-year-old man McCoy stabbed is still recovering in the hospital.
YouTube video shows one man continuously punching McCoy, with several other people also landing punches after joining in.McCoy said that he remembered that he had a knife in his pocket.
“I reached in and I grabbed my knife, and I started trying to cut my way out, trying to save my life,” he said. “They still found a way to get my knife out of my hand and continued to beat me.”
McCoy said the beating stopped when an officer pepper-sprayed the crowd.