The University Police Department at UAlbany announced Thursday it's charging three women with assault in connection with the incident on a CDTA bus on campus January 30 -- the three women who had alleged they were the targets of an attack that included the use of racial slurs. UPD says two of the women will face a charge of "falsely reporting an incident" for allegedly calling 911 and reporting they were the victims. UPD alleges it was the three women who attacked another woman on the bus. [UPD]
The arraignment is scheduled for Monday morning in Albany city police court. From the press release:
The charges are supported by evidence gathered during a three-week investigation that included interviewing 35 passengers on the bus, reviewing videotape from 12 security camera videos on the bus, reviewing four videos taken by passengers on their mobile phones, reviewing videotape from the university's surveillance system, examining UAlbany building access records, and reviewing audio recordings.
The video and audio evidence and the statement of every witness demonstrate that no male struck the three women. The evidence indicates they were actually the aggressors in the physical altercation, and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them.
Investigators also found no evidence to support the initial allegations that these three women were targeted in any manner due to their race, and no evidence that racial slurs were directed toward them. All of the audio recordings examined by police were enhanced by the New York State Police crime lab to assist in hearing what was said on the bus.
"We took this incident very seriously and did a thorough and careful investigation," said UPD Chief J. Frank Wiley. "The evidence shows that, contrary to how the defendants originally portrayed things, these three individuals were not the victims of a crime. Rather, we allege that they are the perpetrators." "I especially want to point out that what happened on the bus was not a 'hate crime.' We spent a great deal of time carefully reviewing the audio recordings to determine whether any racial slurs were used. The only person we heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants. And it is important to note that no witness reported hearing any racial slurs directed at the defendants. And those witnesses were people from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds."
The full press release is embedded below.
This incident has gotten so much attention, both locally and nationally, since one of the women now charged posted about it on Twitter. Even Hillary Clinton briefly mentioned it. And there was a large rally at UAlbany to support the women.
The UPD has still not released video from the bus, and it's not publicly clear what exactly happened and why. (See updated below). It's still not clear what exactly happened and why. Earlier this month Albany County DA David Soares showed the bus video to some leaders in the community, and that seemed to start turning the direction of the story as people who saw the video -- both on the record and anonymously -- urged caution. [TU]
Update: Mark Mishler, the attorney for one of the women, to the Times Union: "I think what's most important at this moment is for everyone to understand that virtually no one has had access to all of the information relating to what happened on the bus ... So the rush to judgment that has occurred in which everyone seems to have an opinion about whether or not Ms. Agudio told the truth or didn't tell the truth ... all of these opinions are based on essentially no information." (The TU has also posted audio from one of the 911 calls.)
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