Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney have a return date in western New York in May, but it won't be part of the national concert tour the country singers are planning to kick off that month. They're scheduled

Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney have a return date in western New York in May, but it won't be part of the national concert tour the country singers are planning to kick off that month. They're scheduled to stand trial on charges stemming from a June 3 incident in the Buffalo area, when a ride Chesney took on a police horse led to a scuffle with Erie County sheriff's deputies.

Orchard Park Town Judge Edmund Brown Jr. yesterday (Feb. 21) set a tentative trial date of May 7 for the singers and McGraw road manager Mark Russo, who also was charged. Brown also said he would rule within a week on a request by the singers' lawyer to throw out the charges.

McGraw is accused of grabbing an officer by the neck from behind, as sheriff's deputies pulled Chesney from a police horse that he allegedly rode away on after receiving permission to sit on the animal.

He is charged with assault, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and harassment -- misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison. Chesney was charged with harassment after allegedly refusing deputies' orders to get off the horse. Russo was charged with obstruction, resisting arrest, harassment, and disorderly conduct.

McGraw has contended from the outset that the entire situation was a misunderstanding blown way out of proportion.

"I saw two officers leap from their car and run towards Kenny, who was riding a horse. Kenny raised his hands as if he were surrendering, yelling he had permission to ride the horse, when they reached up and began to rip him from the horse," McGraw said in a statement released shortly after the incident.

"Fearing for Kenny's safety, I ran over to offer assistance," he continued. "At no time did I ever throw any punches or put anyone in anything remotely resembling a chokehold. One of the officers pulled his nightstick and hit me at least three times on my leg. The other officer kept saying this was all a misunderstanding."

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