Prosecutors have dropped assault charges against two teenagers accused of beating two newspaper reporters. Charges against two other teens are ongoing.
Police said the incident occurred on April 14 as two colleagues from a Norfolk newspaper were heading home from an evening out. They were stopped in their car at a downtown Norfolk stoplight at Church Street and Brambleton Avenue when they were rushed by a large crowd of teenagers, they said.
As a result, four teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16 faced charges of a single count of participation in a riot and two counts of simple assault by mob. One of the teens also was charged with a count of vandalism.
An attorney for one of the teens said there was no evidence to prove that his client participated in the attack and that all prosecutors could show was an assault occurred as several people ran around the area.
The father of one of the teens concurred that his son was not a participant in the attack. He said his son went to a party, and as he walked home, a large group of people pursued the reporters. He said his son simply was in the wrong spot and hoped that police could identify the assailants and prosecute them.
A police spokeswoman said she did not expect Norfolk officers would make additional arrests. The investigation will continue to pry for more details on the incident.
No motive was given for the attacks. While a prominent national news commentator blamed race relations, many Virginians decried his comments.
This case is a good example of the potential for misidentifying a suspect. It is difficult in a situation involving a large group for police to arrest the right person because of confusion and mayhem at the moment. Police need to maintain diligence in their investigations to make sure they have arrested and charged the right suspects.
Source: WAVY, "Charges dropped for 2 in alleged attack," July 25, 2012