Call it a case of double mistaken identity. A college student mistook half a dozen plain clothes Alcoholic Beverage Control agents for late-night marauders. They mistook her purchase — bottled water for a sorority fundraiser — for beer. But only one of the parties ended up paying a penalty for her mistake and faces further potential fallout.
That party is 20-year-old student Elizabeth Daly of the University of Virginia. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch (h/t The Blaze), Daly already spent one night in jail after panicking and attempting to flee law enforcement officers, believing them to be a flash mob. She was charged with two counts of assaulting an officer and one of eluding police. Both crimes are Class 6 felonies under Virginia law, carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines per offense.
The incident occurred around 10:15 p.m. the night of April 11. Daly and two roommates had just bought a six-pack of bottled water at a convenience store and returned to her car. Suddenly, she said in a written statement, one person in street clothes jumped on the hood. Another drew a gun. Several others were shouting.
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.
One of the women dialed 911 as Daly pulled out of the parking lot. Daly says the she was planning to drive to a police station but stopped when a vehicle with flashing lights and a siren pulled up behind her.
She incurred the assault charges for reportedly “grazing” two agents with her SUV as she sped away, according to court records.
Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman Chapman has said he’d never encountered a situation like this in his 34 years on the job. “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to prosecute this,” he said, noting that no one was hurt during the exchange.
Yet, he was quick to add, “You don’t know all the facts until you complete the investigation,” saying he stands by the agents’ decision to prefer charges.
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