The Lexington man arrested Tuesday in a scuffle outside the Kentucky Senate chamber said he never touched Senate President David Williams.
Stephen Rhodes Schwartz, 45, said he joined other people at the Capitol who wanted to protest a political redistricting map that effectively removes state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, from office at year's end. Schwartz lives next to Stein on Transylvania Park near the University of Kentucky campus and said he knows her, although she did not ask him to protest in Frankfort.
"It was people responding to something they saw on Facebook," Schwartz said Wednesday. "It wasn't something planned. It wasn't an ambush."
Kentucky State Police arrested Schwartz and charged him with menacing after he and other protesters crowded into a hall outside the Senate chamber. Williams, R-Burkesville, was walking through the hall to his nearby office. Some protesters "started putting their fingers in the face of the Senate president," said Senator Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.
Schwartz described his arrest as "an overreaction."
"I don't really have anything more I want to say about it," he said. "I will say that my throat still hurts from being choked."
Schwartz said he's scheduled to appear Feb. 7 in Franklin District Court. Menacing is a Class B misdemeanor and can bring up to 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $250.
Schwartz, who also goes by the name Stephen Trask, is a songwriter and composer whose work has been used in several movies.
Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks said Wednesday that he hadn't spoken to any witnesses in Schwartz's case or reviewed the evidence.
"We'll handle it based on the facts and the proof," Sparks said.