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Last week, we told you about 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly’s arrest, which was triggered when plain-clothed members of Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control office swarmed her car, waving guns, and smashing windows, simply because they thought she and her friends had bought after hours alcohol. As it happened, all that they done was to buy cookie dough, ice cream, and bottled water. The call her roommate, Ann Downey, made to 911 that frightening night has now been released.
Daly and her two roommates were returning home after attending a “Take Back The Night” event on the UVA campus. The event included testimony from dozens of women who had survived sexual assaults and other violent attacks.
On the way home, Daly went to a Harris Teeter store in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they picked up college women’s food staples: cookie dough, ice cream, and bottled water. When they got to their car, plainclothes agents from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency (“ABC”) suddenly surrounded their car. One jumped on the hood of the car and another drew a gun. The men screamed at the women to get out of the car. They did flash their badges, but the panicked women couldn’t tell what they were. Daly described what happened:
They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform. 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 and her friends had only one goal: escape. She got the car in gear and raced away from the scene, as her roommates shouted “Go! Go! Go!” and flung themselves into the back seats to escape from the ABC agents pounding on the windows. The women frantically dialed 911 to try to find a local police station and to learn whether the agents after them were actually police.
Daly finally learned that the men were indeed ABC agents who thought that she and her friends had purchased liquor during “dry” hours, so she pulled over. When the officers caught up with her, she was profusely apologetic and explained her perception of what had happened. Nevertheless, the officers arrested her, charging her with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer (her car grazed two police as she drove away) and one count of eluding the police. These are Class 6 felonies that carry maximum penalties of 5 years in prison and fines of $2,500 per offense. Daly spent the next 24 hours in jail.
This Thursday, the State of Virginia dropped all charges against Daly. David Chapman, the Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney stated that “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to prosecute this.” Still he felt that, until the events of that evening were fully investigated, filing charges against her was the right thing to do.
We’re just wondering why an after-hours liquor arrest requires police to behave with such a high level of aggression towards three young women. The ABC agents apparently have nothing to say on that subject.