When a half-dozen men and a woman in street clothes closed in on University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly, 20, she and two roommates panicked.
Photo credit: Fergal Mac Eoinin / Foter/ CC BY-NC-SA
That led to Daly spending a night and an afternoon in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Her initial offense? Walking to her car with bottled water, cookie dough and ice cream just purchased from the Harris Teeter in the Barracks Road Shopping Center for a sorority benefit fundraiser.
A group of state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents clad in plainclothes approached her, suspecting the blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water to be a 12-pack of beer. Police say one of the agents jumped on the hood of her car. She says one drew a gun. Unsure of who they were, Daly tried to flee the darkened parking lot.
“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.
“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.
The authorities agree with her tale, but, you know, she had pissed the cops off by then.
Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman read Daly’s account and said it was factually consistent.
Prosecutors say she apologized profusely when she realized who the agents were. But that wasn’t good enough for ABC agents, who charged her with three felonies. Prosecutors withdrew those charges Thursday in Charlottesville General District Court, but Daly still can’t understand why she sat in jail….
Agents charged Daly with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police, all Class 6 felonies carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines per offense….
Daly incurred the assault charges when she “grazed” two agents with her SUV, according to court records. She drove the SUV past the agents after her front-seat passenger, in a panic, yelled at Daly to “go, go, go” and climbed into the rear of the vehicle to gain space from the men on her side of the car, the records state…
Oh, the irony!
The women dialed 911 as they pulled out of the parking lot to report what was happening and ask whether the agents were police officers. Daly said she was planning to drive to a police station. She stopped the SUV nearby for an agent driving a vehicle with lights and sirens, Chapman said.