AL Sheriff reveals relation to Tiger fan assault suspect

LSU fan assaulted
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor
Brian Downing, 33 (Courtesy: WWL-TV)
Brian Downing, 33 (Courtesy: WWL-TV)

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor spoke with FOX6 Anchor Beth Shelburne Thursday by phone about a man identified as a person of interest in the Bama/LSU sexual battery case.

Sheriff Taylor says the man's name is Brian Downing and he is a relative of his. Downing came into Taylor's office around 2:15 p.m. Eastern time. Downing and his attorney arrived in New Orleans late Thursday night, where Downing was booked on one count of Sexual Battery (a felony) and one count of Obscenity.

[See related story: NOPD arrests suspect in sexual assault of LSU fan]

Sheriff Taylor says he was in contact with New Orleans authorities today. Downing came in with his mother and father, his wife and their attorney Mr. Walt Gray.

The family sat in the conference room while the Sheriff and Downing's attorney were on the phone with New Orleans police, trying to determine exactly what they wanted to do with their case.

New Orleans police had not issued a warrant and had not decided what that warrant will be, so they asked Mr. Downing to come to New Orleans to speak with them directly in order to move forward.

Sheriff Taylor says he had heard about the video and had not seen it, but began getting phone calls this morning from family members saying it was Brian in the video.

"First off, I couldn't believe that an Alabama fan would do that to begin with and second of all it was even harder to believe and swallow that it was my family," Taylor said.

Taylor says he has not spoken to Downing directly because Downing's attorney is not letting him speak to anyone.

"My intention was potentially that he was gonna have to be arrested here. I was prepared to put him in jail had New Orleans said we've got a warrant and he needs to be arrested for whatever and we'll extradite him back to New Orleans," Taylor said.

Sheriff Taylor says it is out of character for Brian, but he says there are consequences for what you do and his family isn't immune to that.

Sheriff confirmed that Brian has been a manager at Hibbett Sports, but has no information about him being terminated.

"He's a very intelligent guy, he's a smart, he's a good kid. He's never, to my knowledge been in any trouble at all and I just think this is out of character for him. But you know, if he did this, if the video is accurate and it's not tampered with, then he'll have to pay his debt, whatever that is, in New Orleans," Taylor said.

The sheriff would not speculate on possible charges. He said his involvement was realizing that his family member was the person New Orleans police were looking for and he wanted to clear it up as soon as possible.

Sheriff also said Downing's demeanor appeared to be humble. He described him as quiet, saying he obviously knows he's got things to deal with.

The Sheriff was careful to say the video appears to be legitimate but he does not want to judge the case. With today's technology, he says the video could have been doctored.

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