HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officials are taking a second look at the case of a University of Virginia student, and Henrico resident, arrested after agents mistook a box of sparkling water for beer.
Felony charges were dropped last week against Elizabeth Daly, a Henrico resident, but public outrage continued as the story made national headlines. The agency says it will re-investigate the case, but will not say if new supervisors are assigned to look into the matter.
The governor’s Secretary of Public Safety will also take a look at the ABC’s final report. “The governor is aware of this issue,” Bob McDonnell’s spokesman, Tucker Martin, said in an email to CBS 6.
Daly said she didn’t know that Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control agents were on the lookout for underage drinkers last April.
ABC agents thought Daly was carrying a 12-pack of beer as she walked out of the Harris Teeter grocery store in the Barracks Road Shopping Center, in Charlottesville.
They now know it was a box of La Croix sparkling water. Daly declined to comment on camera, but told CBS 6 she and her two roommates were frightened when people–agents in plain clothes–quickly surrounded the group.
She contends the people never identified themselves as Virginia ABC agents. That’s disputed in court documents and by ABC officials, who told CBS 6 News that the female agent approached Daly and showed her badge.
The ABC told CBS 6 that agents were working in the area, concentrating on underage possession enforcement. They said that an agent “observed what appeared to be an underage person in possession of what appeared to be a case of beer, and approached her to investigate.”
According to the ABC, the agent identified herself as a police officer and was displaying her badge. Other agents did not join the incident until the subject refused to cooperate.
“Rather than comply with the officers’ requests, the subject drove off, striking two officers,” read the statement. “She was not arrested for possessing bottled water, but for running from police and striking two of them with a vehicle.”
John Whitehead, with the Rutherford Institute, said the girls “could have been killed.”
“When you have an agent jumping on a car, showing a gun it could go off by mistake and I’ve seen that happen around the country,” Rutherford said.
After her friend verified through a 911 dispatcher that the officers were legit, Daly eventually pulled over when signaled by an ABC agent in pursuit. She was arrested on felony charges of assault and battery on a police officer and eluding police.
Daly said she spent the night in a Charlottesville jail.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney in Charlottesville opted not to prosecute Daly, saying he didn’t see a reason to do so. She walked away from the courthouse eager to put this ordeal behind her.
Daly released a statement to CBS 6.
“This has been an extremely trying experience and one that has called into question what I value most; my integrity, honor and character. It is something to this day I cannot understand or believe has come to this point.
Cookies dough and ice cream for a fundraiser should not put you through an extremely degrading night and afternoon in jail, appearing in court, posting bond, having to pay an attorney, missing school, social and family functions, not allowed to leave the state, causing you endless nights of no sleep, affecting your school work and final exams, wondering if you would be dismissed from school, wondering how this would damage your reputation and your ability to get a job, all while waiting on pins and needles to see what the Commonwealth is going to offer you,” Daly wrote.
She says she’s thankful the charges were completely dropped, and that on paper she was exonerated.
“The reality of the matter is what I mentioned previously as having experienced and that is not just forgotten by today’s results,” Daly said after Thursday’s court proceeding, where her charges were withdrawn.