31st March, 2014 by Lauren Eads
A 20-year-old student who was jailed after alcohol control officers mistook a case of water for beer has launched a US$40 million lawsuit against the state of Virginia.
Elizabeth Daly spent a night behind bars after Virginia alcohol agents jumped on her car, flashed a gun and tried to break her car window in the belief that she had illegally bought beer, according to a report in the New York Daily News.
According to reports, Daly and two other students were leaving the grocery store having bought cookie dough and canned water, when plain clothed state alcohol agents, who had been staking out the store to catch underage buyers of alcohol, followed them to their car mistaking the women’s LaCroix sparkling water for a case of beer.
Daly, now 21, said she had been terrified when “strangers” surrounded her car and began pounding on the windows with one agent allegedly jumping on the hood of the car when Daly turned the engine on to allow her to roll down her window, while another allegedly pulled a gun.
The panicked student dialled 911 and pulled away but pulled over once it was confirmed by the dispatcher that the men were genuine state officers.
She was taken into custody and spent the night in jail charged with assaulting officers who she had grazed with her car, however the charges were later dropped.
The University of Virginia student is now suing the state for $40 million alleging assault and malicious prosecution following the incident which took place in June last year outside a grocery store in Charlottesville.
Daly’s suit, filed on Tuesday, alleges Virginia failed to properly train the agents, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, with lawyers acting on behalf of Daly claiming the officers had acted with “actual malice, out of embarrassment and disgrace for their own intentional and grossly negligent acts” charging Daly with three felonies out of “anger and personal spite.”
Michael Kelly, spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “It’s incredibly unfortunate that the situation that night in Charlottesville occurred at all.”