The ABCs Of The Surveillance State: Six Gun Toting Alcohol Agents Pounce On College Kid Buying Bottled Water [Corrected]

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The Offending Contraband That Almost Got A UVa Student Shot
The Offending Contraband That Almost Got A UVa Student Shot

University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly thought she was doing a good thing buying some La Croix bottled water and cookie dough ice cream from the Harris Teeter Supermarket to share at a charity event.  It was 10:15 p.m. and the twenty-year-old, along with her female roommate were trying get to a police sponsored “Take Back The Night” event where she thought  she would be listening to stories from sexual assault victims and developing strategies to combat the scourge of most college towns. Instead, as she crossed the dark parking lot and got into her vehicle, she was set upon by six people, one of whom jumped on the hood of her SUV and another who pulled a gun.

“I couldn’t put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were … terrified,” Daly stated. Not wanting to become a victim herself, Daly heeded the words of her panic-stricken front seat passenger and took off.  As she did, she grazed two of the assailants.

“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform,” she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.

Those badges were from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the marauding plain clothes officers were bound and determined to stop the women from underage drinking of  purported alcohol, a misdemeanor.  Apparently, the Keystone cops mistook the blue packaged LaCroix water for something like Labatts beer and  the assault on the citizen was on. Feeling guns were appropriate against this gang of college kids, the agents were reminiscent of another infamous and recent Virginia misdemeanor stop where a panicked female driver was shot and killed while fleeing from an overzealous cop with a penchant for overusing his service revolver.  In a  story that we covered on the blog (here), Culpeper police officer, Daniel Harmon-Wright, was sentenced to  three (3) years in prison by a jury for voluntary manslaughter after he fired 5 times into Patricia Ann Cook’s slow rolling SUV as she left a church parking lot on a supposed misdemeanor arrest for trespass.

Ms. Daly did stop her SUV in response to another ABC agent who approached in his car with lights and siren blaring. Showing an utter lack of common sense, she was booked on three felony charges including two of  assaulting these jacklegs and one counting of trying to elude them. She spent the night and into the next day  in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Fortunately for Daly, Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, Dave Chapman, is a grown-up with 34 years of prosecuting under his belt. He immediately dropped the charges and profusely apologized to the rattled young lady. “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to prosecute this,” he said, noting that no one was hurt during the exchange.

Chapman did however take a preemptive swipe against a possible civil lawsuit that he knows is coming. Standing by the agents’ decision to file charges, and citing faith in a process that yielded an appropriate resolution, he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, “You don’t know all the facts until you complete the investigation.”

True enough, unless you were there — like  all six of the ABC agents.

“This has been an extremely trying experience,” Daly wrote. “It is something to this day I cannot understand or believe has come to this point.”  Like every other person who sat through a civics class or read the Constitution, me neither.

When law enforcement forgets it works for the citizens and not the other way around this is precisely what happens. Under what scenario is jumping on the hood of a car and drawing a gun (each an assault given the utter lack of probable cause to stop much less arrest this college kid) acceptable behavior from a state where Thomas Jefferson once reminded us that,”It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all” ?

The answer is there is none and Ms. Daly hopefully will have the pluck to prove that before seven citizens in a Virginia court of law.

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

CORRECTION:  Our good friend, Lindylou22 (love the internal assonance in that name), points out that while Elizabeth Daly had bought the now infamous sparkling water, some ice cream and some cookie dough from the Barracks Road Harris Teeter, the items were for a sorority fundraiser and not the “Take Back the Night (TBN)” event. Daly and her roommate had attended that TBN event earlier that evening and as  the article states were “on edge” after listening to the harrowing stories of sexual assault. As Lindylou22 rightly points out, this sad circumstance made it “worse for those poor girls.” Sorry for the errors but that great spading work shows Lindylou22 has law review written all over her. Thanks for the help.

Kudos, too, Lindylou22!

58 thoughts on “The ABCs Of The Surveillance State: Six Gun Toting Alcohol Agents Pounce On College Kid Buying Bottled Water [Corrected]”

  1. Radley Balko:

    Questions For Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board

    — Is it standard procedure for ABC agents to jump out on college students in the parking lots of stores that sell alcohol?

    — Even if that is standard procedure (and if it is, that’s outrageous), how did these particular agents know that Elizabeth Daly was underage?

    — If Daly hadn’t realized the men who just confronted her were cops, and if she’d attempted to drive away, would the agents have fired their guns at her?

    — Why are ABC agents armed in the first place?

  2. College Girls, Bottled Water and the Emerging American Police State

    By John W. Whitehead
    July 08, 2013


    This mindset that any challenge to police authority is a threat that needs to be “neutralized” is a dangerous one that is part of a greater nationwide trend that sets law enforcement officers beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment. It also serves to chill the First Amendment’s assurances of free speech, free assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    It’s bad enough that the police now look like the military—with their foreboding uniforms and phalanx of lethal weapons—but they function like them, as well. No longer do they act as peace officers guarding against violent criminals. And no more do we have a civilian police force entrusted with serving and protecting the American people and keeping the peace.

    What we are dealing with is a militarized government entity that has clearly lost sight of its overarching duty: to abide by the dictates of the U.S. Constitution and act as public servants in service to the taxpayers of this country rather than commanders directing underlings who must obey without question.

    End of excerpt

  3. “How about a rule that simply says “If you’re old enough and mature enough to defend your country in some godforsaken place with an M-16, you’re old enough to toast it with a drink.”

    –And we have a winner.

  4. Magginkat (@Magginkat) 1, June 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

    “Seems to me that if they were interested in stopping underage kids from buying beer that they should stand outside the door of the grocery store & check as people leave. Better still, why doesn’t that grocery store hire an off duty cop, in uniform, and have him checking beer purchases instead of terrorizing innocent people & wasting taxpayer money?”

    This is probably the best example I could ever find of what is wrong with our culture. You think it is a good idea to have police checking up on what you buy? Our current police state isn’t good enough for you??? How about inviting them into your home to inventory your refrigerator?

    HELLO. THE ONLY ANSWER IS TO REPEAL THE STATE. Let adults, which I put at younger than 21, decide for themselves how to live their lives, including what they ingest.

  5. The girls were terrified, so it follows that the “officers” are terrorists. Why isn’t Obama droning those terrorists?

  6. My comment was directed to mr.ed, but I would also like to add that the links provided that can backtrack into the horrendous miscarriage of justice and abuse of power by Culpeper police officer, Daniel Harmon-Wright we can surmise that some individuals are simply brutal thugs that will use any excuse to kill when they think they can get away with it.

  7. Too bad the fascist goons were not so seriously injured that they could no longer work

    1. I don’t think you actually mean “instant justice” literally, but I have to agree it is a spontaneous decision of self defense that calls for true professional judgement. But as this particular case demonstrates there is a lot of room for error if rage, bravado or false pride is involved.

  8. They were lucky they didn’t get the 137 rounds Cleveland cops dealt to two people whose car drove toward them after a chase. Assaulting an officer with a vehicle gets instant justice most anywhere, even without touching them.

  9. Don’t appologize for these Gestapo goons. They are not much of an exception to the rule. You are living more & more in a police state. Don’t tolerate it. Don’t put up with it. Fight back or find somewhere safer.

  10. What Darren said. I have noticed over the past ten years there is a large turnover in police department personnel. Lot of rookies out there, and this incident smacks of a combination of lack of training and experience. If they have training, then the training officer needs to have a sit-down talk with somebody who knows what they are doing.

    Prosecutors in cases like this ought to know better, but over the years the over zealousness of some prosecutors never ceases to amaze me. Thank goodness they are not all like that, but there are enough of them out there to give one pause.

  11. Bunch of rookies.

    This is sometimes what happens when limited authority officers who spend most of their days doing paperwork try to pretend they are taking down bank robbers. So quick they are to jump the gun.

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