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Police advise women to be wary. It should come as no surprise.
Friday, July 5, 2013
Women drivers are told repeatedly: Don’t stop in an isolated area, even for flashing lights in the rearview mirror. Bad guys can buy police lights and phony badges. Go first to a place where you feel safe.
When seven plainclothes state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents surrounded a University of Virginia student’s SUV in a dark grocery store parking lot in April, the young woman at the wheel heeded the warnings. And Elizabeth Daly was arrested, charged with three felonies, and spent the night in jail.
All because ABC agents overreacted when trying to confront Daly and her two passengers, suspecting they had just purchased “a suitcase” of beer and looked to be underage. The charges eventually were dropped, thanks to the good sense of a commonwealth’s attorney. But public ire remains high in Charlottesville because the agency has not acknowledged that officers went too far — even for what, in their eyes, was a beer bust.
Police must understand that women, waylaid for no apparent reason by a group of people who say they are police, but do not look the part, have good reason to feel threatened.
In reality, the three roommates had purchased ice cream, cookie dough and sparkling water for a charity event the next day. They had done nothing wrong when they were accosted, and clearly were frightened. Daly couldn’t open her window without first starting her car; when she did, the officers started yelling and trying to break the windows.
She tried to leave, a roommate dove from the front seat into the back and dialed 911, the SUV brushed two officers, another pulled his gun . . . really? For a beer bust?
When 911 confirmed the cops were real, Daly apologized profusely — but they took her in. The ABC should apologize, and acknowledge its agents could have kept the situation from spinning out of control.
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