A University of Virginia student was arrested on multiple felony charges and spent 24 hours in jail after she tried to flee a grocery store parking lot when agents attempted to arrest her for buying a case of La Croix water. According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly and her two roommates panicked when plainclothes Alcoholic Beverage Control officers surrounded their vehicle, flashing badges and weapons because the officers believed the women had purchased beer during dry hours.
On Sunday night, April 11, around 10:30 p.m., Daly and her friends left a Charlottesville, Virginia Harris Teeter store carrying cookie dough, ice cream and a case of bottled water. As they reached the vehicle, ABC agents surrounded them, one even jumping on to the hood of Daly’s SUV. They showed badges, shouting at the women to exit the vehicle. One agent drew a gun.
Daly and the other passengers had just come from a “Take Back the Night” event on campus, where they heard the testimonies of dozens of survivors of sexual assaults and other violent attacks. With the details of those crimes fresh in their minds, the women believed that their safety was in danger.
“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform,” wrote Daly Thursday in a an account of the 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 put the SUV in gear and fled the scene with one of her roommates shouting, “Go! Go! Go!” and diving into the back of the vehicle to get away from agents who were trying to break the windows. The women frantically called 911 trying to find out the location of the nearest police station and whether or not their assailants were really police.
Daly was profusely apologetic when she realized that she wasn’t about to be abducted or killed, but officers took her into custody at the roadside and charged her with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police. The crimes are all Class 6 felonies, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines per offense. The officers say that the SUV grazed two of them as it pulled away, hence the assault charges.
On Thursday, all charges against Daly were dropped. Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman told the Daily Progress that he’s never seen a case of this kind.
“It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to prosecute this,” he said, although he stood by the agents’ decision to press charges and arrest Daly.
“You don’t know all the facts until you complete the investigation,” Chapman said.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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