2 Charged in Reported Charlottesville Downtown Mall Assault
Charlottesville police have identified the people they say are responsible for a beating on the downtown mall.
Police say around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, two men came to police headquarters and surrendered for their role in the attack on December 20. Both men have now been charged with assault and battery. Richard Spears, 23, and Malcolm Stevenson, 25, are facing misdemeanor assault charges.
Police say, based on their investigation, this is what happened the night of December 20 on Charlottesville downtown mall: Victims Jeanne Doucette and Marc Adams were walking on the mall when Adams tripped. A group of men started laughing and mocking him. A verbal confrontation began, which led to a physical confrontation.
A witness told police that Stevenson lifted Adams up and threw him to the ground. Police say Spears admitted to punching Doucette.
"Nothing was taken. No evidence by statement either by victim, suspect, or independent witnesses, that that was ever part of what took place. Again not to minimize, what begins as a verbal confrontation ends in some type of physical escalation and, frankly, that happens from time to time on the mall, particularly when alcohol is in the mix, which may have played a part of this,” said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
This case received a lot of attention on social media after the photos were shared on Facebook. There was a lot of criticism about the lag time of getting the case into the hands of an investigator. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Chief Tim Longo admitted there was a breakdown, saying the case was assigned to a patrol officer but should have been moved to the investigations division.
"It's not because I don't think patrol officers can conduct an investigation properly," he said. "Patrol officers conduct investigations every day, it's just that this is a resource-intensive process."
Longo says the department has been reviewing procedures to make sure the breakdown doesn't happen again.
Police say there are at least two witnesses they are aware of, but are asking for other people to come forward. They say Adams would not participate in the investigation right after the incident happened, but came to police the following day.
"My opinion is at the point that Mr. Adams re-contacted police and a supplement report was created and he gives a version of events which raises further issues for investigators, it was at that point that I think the case should have been taken out of the hands of patrol and placed into the hands of investigators," Longo said.
At one point, it was suspected that three people were responsible for the attack, but police say based on their investigation, only Spears and Stevenson were involved.
After both men were charged, they were released on a permitted warrant. Their first court appearance is scheduled for February 5 at 9 a.m.
Charlottesville Police Department Press Release
Charlottesville Police have charged Malcolm James Stevenson, age 25 of Charlottesville and Richard Bernard Spears, age 23 of Charlottesville with assault in reference to a reported incident that occurred in the 100 block of E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall on December 20th, 2013.
Both Stevenson and Spears turned themselves in to a detective at the Charlottesville Police Department where they were released on a permitted warrant. A permitted warrant does not require the person named to be taken before a magistrate for bond. Their first court appearance is scheduled for February 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am.
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