Skip to main content

Two arrested over beating of sailor

A dispute over docking leads to a physical confrontation, according to Annapolis police

A dispute over docking leads to a physical confrontation, according to Annapolis police

Two Annapolis powerboaters have been charged with second-degree assault after they allegedly beat a sailboat owner and threw him into Back Creek over a docking dispute, police say.

Joseph T. Lupinek, the operator of the powerboat Got Lucky, and Tracy L. Oliver, both 43, were also charged with reckless endangerment. Additionally, Lupinek was charged with operating a boat under the influence.

The incident began when James Michael Pumphrey, 47, of Annapolis, arrived at his slip at Turner Marina where Ziska, his 1903 wooden 38-foot gaff-rigged cutter, was docked on one side of a narrow fairway. On the other side of the fairway is a public dinghy dock at the end of Fourth Street in Eastport.

Pumphrey, interviewed following the incident, says that there have been ongoing problems of powerboat owners leaving their vessels tied to the dinghy dock — which is posted with signs excluding larger boats — while they are visiting Davis’ Pub nearby. The powerboats block use of the fairway, Pumphrey says. “That particular day, I came in and there were three fiberglass powerboats [tied to the dock].” He says two dinghies were tied to the dock inshore from one of the powerboats — the operator of one frustrated because he could not get out past the powerboats. The operator of a third dinghy was unable to get to the dock because of the powerboats, he says.

When he arrived at his boat at about 8:30 p.m. Sept. 5, Pumphrey says, he found a mooring line from one of the powerboats attached to Ziska. Then he saw one of the powerboat operators cast off lines from the dinghy dock and bump into his boat as it left. He says he untied the offending mooring line from Ziska’s port side and, “I called the harbor master and complained.”

Pumphrey says his slip on the marina side of the fairway is separated from the street by a chain link fence. When he tossed the line from his boat, he says, two men “came around the fence on private property and onto the pier,” and began yelling at him. Police later took statements from two witnesses who corroborated a verbal exchange during which Lupinek and Oliver shouted “profanities” and sexually derisive remarks at Pumphrey.

“It was a powerboat/sailboat thing,” Pumphrey says.

According to two police reports and the statements of the two witnesses, the shouting evolved into a physical assault.

Lupinek and Oliver told police they had been in Davis’ Pub with their wives before the incident. When they returned to their boat, Lupinek told police, Pumphrey accosted them. They said the exchange was strictly verbal.

Pumphrey told police that after Lupinek, who is bigger than Pumphrey, began shouting close to his face, he warned the men that he was calling the police on his cell phone. According to the police reports, Pumphrey turned away from the two and was talking on the phone when one of the men punched him in the right shoulder. One witness says that Oliver then left the dock and boarded Got Lucky while Lupinek continued to pursue Pumphrey, finally shoving him toward the water.

In his statement to police, Pumphrey said, “I felt myself in the air. I hit the side of my boat with my right arm to protect my head, and I landed in the water.” Both witnesses say that when Pumphrey attempted to climb back onto the dock, Lupinek hit him to keep him in the water.

Lupinek then joined Oliver and their wives in Got Lucky and left the scene, traveling to another marina across Back Creek, police say. Annapolis City Police handcuffed the two men. Pumphrey was taken to a hospital where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder.

“Next time, I’ll run instead of walking away,” Pumphrey says.