Men Charged in Downtown Mall Assault Speak Out - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Men Charged in Downtown Mall Assault Speak Out

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Tuesday, the men who turned themselves in after the attack on the Charlottesville downtown mall are speaking out. Malcolm Stevenson and Richard Spears say the story the public has been told about an assault on December 20 couldn't be further from the truth and that they are not the thugs they have been made out to be.

On January 8, Stevenson and Spears turned themselves in at the Charlottesville Police Department and were charged with assault and battery. Police said during a press conference, based on their investigation, this is what happened the night of December 20: 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.

The two men are coming forward, not only to clear their names, but to also talk about how media coverage and social media have tarnished their reputations.

"And I think that's what's upsetting me about the way this is being portrayed right now. I punched him and threw him on the ground, when really this boy got in my face and fell on the ground because he was so drunk and it's because he got in my face and said I'm going to kick this gay guy's ass," said Stevenson.

Both men say that a lot of what Doucette posted on Facebook in the days following the incident was an inaccurate representation of what happened that night. They say she added to the story to get a rise out of the public and force police to get involved.

They agree that it was a verbal argument that escalated, but also say media reports have blown the situation out of proportion. Both men say they were shocked to see themselves associated with a knock-out game or portrayed as "attackers."

"I'm just really like embarrassed and humiliated. Just walking into a store and my picture is plastered everywhere. It's frustrating," said Spears.

Spears and Stevenson say they are particularly upset with the initial story that ran in Cville Weekly.  In the article, Doucette and Adams give their version of events and the story quickly spread on social media.

"And upon reading the article I was like, this is not what happened. That's what I was up in arms about," said Stevenson

The men say the reaction from the public wasn't fair because allegations of them brutally beating the couple and high-fiving each other during the alleged attack is a lie.

"The male victim who I am claimed to have picked up and thrown and punched repeatedly, he approached me aggressively in a way saying that because of your sexuality and the way that you look that if this comes to blows I will win. And I repeatedly explained to him that's not what's going to happen and I'm not going to hit you," said Stevenson.

Friends and self-described aspiring activists Kishara Griffin and Kiara Redd-Martin are planning a protest of Cville Weekly because of the matter-of-fact association to the knock-out game.

"Instead of making the article as factual, they should have done things like 'alleged' and 'claimed,'" said Griffin.

"And just based on the stigmatizations of the black race that happen in the media, the audience was going to take the other side as truth," said Martin.

While both Spears and Stevenson say they have made mistakes, they maintain their innocence.

"I hope that this will bring to people's attention that you don't always judge a book by its cover and you don't always believe everything you read or see," said Stevenson.

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