A guest at the Society Hill Sheraton and 2nd and Walnut streets uploaded a disturbing video to YouTube this morning that shows police breaking up a fight between members of at least two wedding parties in the hotel lobby.
Lt Ray Evers said the fight first broke out among family members of a wedding party who were drinking at the hotel's bar after the reception. "There's another wedding party whose reception was not at the hotel, but they're staying at the hotel," he continued. "They arrive at that fight and then you have a fight between two parties, 75 to 100 people in a big brawl, and police are called as it turns into a melee."
In the video, which is slightly over a minute long, police can first be seen breaking up the fight between the guests – the man wearing a white shirt who appears to lunge across the room before becoming entangled with the other man is a sergeant. Evers said authorities are investigating charges against that man for possibly assaulting the sergeant.
Amid screams and clattering tableware, police can be seen pulling away a woman in an evening gown, who is sitting on the floor, where it appears she was knocked during the melee. "What the hell?" the hotel guest can be heard saying as he films the
fracas from a balcony. "It's my frikkin' birthday – go to bed!"
A woman wearing a bridal gown can then be seen shoving an officer and pointing toward the man police are struggling to detain, who Evers said had to be Tasered in order to be subdued.
The drama continues as the bride attempts to reach the man, but struggles with officers and other wedding guests as they hold her back.
She eventually eludes the officers and enters the fray.
Though police gesture her away with their nightsticks, the woman seems intent on advancing.
The woman is knocked to ground by police soon before the video ends. "Did they just deck the bride?" the man filming can be heard
"They just decked the bride," he concludes.
"Jesus," he says, sounding disturbed as the woman continues to lie on the ground, her veil spread out beneath her. "She's out." Evers said that, given the volatile nature of the crowd situation, the
officers are thought to have acted within their bounds. "After a
tentative look at the tape, we believe the force used by officers was
appropriate," he said.
Two guests were issued summary disorderly conduct citations and released, while charges are still pending against the third man who allegedly assaulted the sergeant, Evers said. "More likely than not, we will have one individual in jail for assault on police," he said.
Another man who was involved in the fight, a 57-year-old wedding guest, suffered a heart attack as he walked outside following the fight around 2 a.m. and died at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital shortly before 3 a.m. The extent of his involvement in the brawl and its possible role in his death is not yet known.
Workers and management with the Sheraton had no comment this afternoon, citing the ongoing investigation. But a trolley driver who regularly picks up and drops off party groups to the hotel expressed disbelief. "I was shocked when I heard about it from the guy that was working last night," he said. He said he's been working the route regularly for years and has never heard of a problem. "I actually dropped my niece off last night for a wedding party," he said. Luckily, the reception was held at a different venue.
No word yet on exactly what led to the fight, but Evers said
investigators believe alcohol played a big part. "Drunken fools," he
said. "It was definitely alcohol-fueled. There was a lot of alcohol
involved. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but you have four
families, two different weddings. It's supposed to be the happiest day
of your life, then you're involved in this brawl. It's a shame."
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