It should have been just a simple trip to the grocery store to buy bottled water, cookie dough and ice cream for a sorority event.
Instead, six plainclothes officers swarmed University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly, who was ultimately arrested and spent the night and next afternoon in jail, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.
What happened? The officers — men and a woman — were state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents who suspected the 20-year-old walking to her car that night had just bought a pack of beer. One agent jumped on the hood of her SUV and Daly said one drew a gun. Panicking and not knowing who they were, she tried to get away.
“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform,” Daly said 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,” she stated.
She dialed 911 as she pulled out of the parking lot and stopped for an agent’s car with lights and sirens, the Daily Progress reported. Once she realized who the agents were, she apologized profusely.
Nevertheless, Daly was charged with two felony counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer after she grazed two agents with her SUV trying to flee, and one felony count of eluding police.
She spent the night and afternoon in jail, and was facing prison time and thousands of dollars in fines before the charges were dropped Thursday.
Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman told the Daily Progress he’d never seen a case like this in 34 years of experience.
“It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to prosecute this,” he said.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control said Friday it’s reviewing the incident. A spokeswoman said a female agent saw “what appeared to be an underage person in possession of what appeared to be a case of beer.”
“The agent identified herself as a police officer and was displaying her badge,” agency spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw said in a statement. “The agents were acting upon reasonable suspicion.”