By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
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!