01:13 - Source: WIAT
Mayor, councilman brawl at meeting

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Councilman has been charged with third degree assault, police say

The cause of the fight, which sent both men to the hospital, remains unknown

CNN —  

A bloody backroom brawl between the mayor and a council member – who has now been charged with third degree assault – at a city council meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday landed both of them in the hospital.

Mayor William Bell and City Councilor Marcus Lundy got caught up in a verbal dispute before agreeing to take their differences to a more private location in a room behind the public chambers, according to witnesses and reporters on Twitter.

In a police report made public hours later, Bell told officers that Lundy initiated the conversation but abruptly switched the topic to “personal issues” before “cursing him and getting loud.” At that point, the mayor told police, Lundy prevented him from leaving the room, then “grabbed him from behind and put him in a chokehold,” according to the police report. The alleged assault only ended when two of Lundy’s aides arrived.

The officer who filed the report stated Bell “had bruising on the right side of his neck and swelling to his left knee.”

Lundy faces up to one year in jail and a fine of $6,000.

It remains unclear what the two were fighting about.

City Council President Johnathan Austin blamed the incident on the mayor, calling it a “sad day when council members are attacked while trying to do the job that they were elected to do.”

Austin’s statement to reporters included a link to images of a bleeding Lundy in the aftermath of the fight.

Archibald also tweeted a photo of the “room where it happened.”

Bell’s office expects him to be released from the hospital later Tuesday He had a CT scan and an MRI. Lundy’s condition was not immediately known.

“It’s extremely concerning, not just for me, but for our entire city so we’ll conduct a thorough investigation and try to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and what precipitated this incident,” Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said at a hastily gathered press conference after the dust up.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office declined to comment to CNN on the cause of the fight.