Imagine for a moment that you’re leaving a local convenience store with an armful of midnight snacks when, just as you get into your vehicle, seven people approach you, drawing guns and jumping on the automobile. What would you do?
Well, it happened to 20-year-old University of Virginia student Elizabeth Day. And she did what any reasonable law-abiding citizen would: She attempted to get the hell out of Dodge.
Unfortunately for Day, the goons who attacked her and her two roommates at the Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville, Va., were agents of the State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board. The agents saw Day leaving the store with a case of La Croix sparkling water and promptly assumed that the just-underage student was making off with a case of beer.
Naturally, the agents did what any well-trained and self-composed group of law enforcement professionals would: They moved in on the young women in the same way they might go after a crack-addled lunatic wielding a Molotov cocktail.
Of course, Day, who had just spent the night at a sexual assault-awareness seminar on campus didn’t realize she was being assaulted by officers of the law, she just saw a group of men and one woman in street clothes attempting to grab her. So she tried to flee, clipping a couple of the creeps with her car in the process.
From The Daily Progress:
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.
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.
The ABC agents, who royally screwed up, charged Day 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. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.
But the incident brings up a sobering point. It doesn’t matter if the police are right or wrong, misinformed, incompetent or blinded by adrenaline; they can shoot you, jail you, spray you, zap you or beat you.
Who’s watching the watchers?