A University of Virginia student, alleging assault and malicious prosecution, filed a $40 million lawsuit against the state over being arrested and jailed after buying a case of sparkling water.
Elizabeth Daly and two sorority sisters were leaving a Charlottesville grocery store last year after buying cookie dough and canned water, when plainclothes state alcohol agents followed them to their car.
Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control officers had staked out the Harris Teeter parking lot to catch underage buyers of booze. They mistook the women's LaCroix sparkling water for a case of beer, authorities said.
Daly's suit, filed Tuesday, names the state and seven agents and alleges Virginia failed to properly train ABC agents, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Now 21, Daly said she had been terrified when strangers surrounded her car and began pounding on the windows. She couldn't roll down a window without starting the car, and when she did, one agent jumped on the hood and another pulled a gun, she has said repeatedly since the incident.
Panicked, she dialed 911, handed the phone to another student in the passenger seat and pulled away. After the dispatcher confirmed the people were indeed state agents, Daly pulled her car over and ABC officers took her into custody, booked her into jail, charged her with assaulting officers she had grazed with her car and left her behind bars overnight.
The charges were later dropped and her record was expunged.
"It's incredibly unfortunate that the situation that night in Charlottesville occurred at all," said Michael Kelly, spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the Times-Dispatch reported.
In her suit, Daly says she was shaking and saying "I don't know what to do!" when agents surrounded her car. Seeing a gun, and a man trying to break her car window with a flashlight, Daly drove off while her friend spoke to the 911 dispatcher. She has suffered from tremors since the June incident, she said.
"The agents acted with actual malice, out of embarrassment and disgrace … and charged (Daly) with three felonies and did so out of anger and personal spite," the suit claims.
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