MA criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Mahoney on the overreaction of several ABC officers.
As University of Virginia student, Elizabeth Daly, left a shopping center carrying a box of sparkling water, cookie dough, and ice cream to her SUV, seven agents of Alcohol Beverage Control sprung into action. Mistaking a blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water for a 12-pack of beer, they surrounded the vehicle, with one agent leaping onto the hood of the SUV, while another drew his firearm.
In an account provided to the court, Daly wrote, “They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform.” Unable to open her window without starting the vehicle, she stated, the agents “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.”
Urged by her roommate to flee, Daly drove away, accidentally “grazing” two agents.
The traumatized students called 911 as they fled the hyper-aggressive agents. The girls were pulled over as they departed the darkened parking lot by yet another agent.
Though she apologized when she was informed that those accosting her and her friends were ABC agents, the agents didn’t apologize to Daly in return, even after realizing they she had purchased only water. Instead, they arrested her, charging her with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police. Rather than allow the frightened co-ed to return to her sorority, agents jailed her for the night.
Though Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman declined to prosecute the college student, he offered no criticism of the agents’ decision to arrest the girl. The ABC agents have offered no explanation for why they were prowling a supermarket parking lot, assumed Daly was underage, or approached the college students as if they had committed a violent felony. There is little reason to believe, therefore, that these agents have been fired, suspended or even reprimanded. Arrogant, trigger-happy law enforcement officers with no sense of proportion or restraint, who view any possible infraction of their precious laws as an opportunity to harass and abuse those they are sworn to serve, have no business being law enforcement officers.
We don’t need, after all, Elliot Ness-wannabes mistaking a sorority girl for Al Capone.
Kevin J. Mahoney is a MA criminal defense attorney.
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