"This has really generated a lot of interest," says Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan, speaking by phone from his office in Buffalo, N.Y.
He's referring to the Saturday night (June 3) incident in which Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and a member
of McGraw's management team were cited on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to second-degree assault. The alleged offenses
took place at Ralph Wilson Stadium near Buffalo after Chesney and McGraw had completed their opening performances for the
George Strait Country Music Festival.
The melee started when Chesney asked permission to mount a horse belonging to
one of the Erie County deputies on duty at the concert. Once in the saddle, witnesses say, Chesney rode away, ignoring orders
"When the deputy went to remove Chesney from the horse," Sheriff Gallivan reports, "another deputy was going
to assist [him]. McGraw came and jumped the second deputy from behind, wrapped one arm around his neck and was choking him.
Now I'm not suggesting he was trying to [really] choke him. But he had him with his arm around his neck, and he was holding
"Then that deputy needed assistance to get [McGraw] off. When the [third] deputy went to assist the one that McGraw
had a choke-hold on, that's when [management representative Mark] Russo jumped in. So there was a little scuffle that ensued,
and both the deputies sustained very minor injuries. But because they had sustained the injuries, the law in New York State
says assaulting a police officer is a felony, regardless of the extent of the injuries -- from a minor bruise to lacerations
and broken bones."
The actions took place, the sheriff explains, in an area at the stadium set aside for the performers
and their crews but "not accessible to the public."
"Following the incident," Sheriff Gallivan continues, "the people
involved were taken back to a command post we set up [at a local fire hall] when the stadium is in operation. From there,
we took them maybe 10 or 15 miles to a town judge for an arraignment. [McGraw and Russo] were arraigned before the local magistrate
and released on bail pending further court appearance. . . . Chesney was issued an appearance ticket and released [on] the
The specific charges against McGraw, according to an Associated Press report, are second-degree assault, obstructing
governmental administration, menacing and resisting arrest. His bail was $2,500. Chesney was cited for disorderly conduct
and his bail set at $100. Russo, who works for McGraw's manager, RPM Management, was charged with obstructing governmental
administration, harassment, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He was released on $500 bail.
says the three men cannot forfeit their bails and wipe the slate clean. "In New York, the purpose of bail is simply to secure
their court appearance," he says. "The law requires them to appear personally. But in exceptional circumstances, the judge
can allow their attorney to appear for them." Gallivan adds that he is not aware of alcohol being a factor in the incident.
McGraw, Chesney and Russo could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman at McGraw's management office said attorneys
for the singer were working on a statement which will be released later today.
Strait's festival tour wraps up this
weekend with concerts Saturday at Texas Stadium in Dallas and Sunday at Enron Field in Houston.
McGraw begins a 40-date,
co-headlining tour with his wife, Faith Hill, July 12 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta.
Also over the weekend, he received
the "Father of the Year" award from the National Fatherhood Initiative, a non-profit, Maryland-based organization that establishes
support programs for fathers and promotes responsible and committed fatherhood.