University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly was terrorized and spent a night in jail for the crime of buying bottled water. She's now suing the state for $40 million.
What happened? Daly had just got back into her car after buying bottled water, ice cream, and cookie dough from a Harris Teeter store. She and two roommates had made plans to bake cookies for a charity fundraiser the next day.
When six men and women approached her car in the darkened parking lot and began banging on the windows, she panicked. They were plain-clothes Alcoholic Beverage Control agents who suspected that her 12-pack of LaCroix canned water was actually beer.
Police admit that one of the agents jumped on the hood of Daly's car and that one of them drew a gun. "We became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform," Daly says, explaining that the officers did eventually show badges but they were "not clearly visible or readable."
"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, Daly stated. "They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were ... terrified."
Daly thought she and her roommates were under attack, and she started driving in an attempt to flee.
She was arrested and jailed overnight, and charged with three felonies: assaulting two officers (whom she grazed with her car) and eluding police. The charges against Daly were later dropped and her record was cleared. But she's now suing the state and seven ABC agents for $40 million, according to the Richmond Time-Despatch. Her lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution, assault and battery, and failure to properly train agents.
"The agents acted with actual malice, out of embarrassment and disgrace for their own intentional and grossly negligent acts and charged (Daly) with three felonies and did so out of anger and personal spite," her lawsuit alleges.
Daly has suffered acutely from the trauma of the incident. Her lawsuit states that she has a hand tremor, intense anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The ABC's own investigation has admitted wrongdoing, finding that two of the agents broke the rules by drawing a gun and breaking Daly's window with a flashlight. The agency says it has taken "corrective action" but has declined to say how.