Three students from the State University of New York who claimed to be targets of a race attack involving a group of white people on an Albany bus on Jan. 30 were charged after prosecutors said they were the real attackers.
During the Feb. 29 arraignment at Albany City Criminal Court, Alexis Briggs, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell, all 20, pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and harassment. Two pleaded not guilty to charges of falsely reporting the event. The false report charges stem from the 911 calls Agudio and Burwell made after the incident.
Mark Mishler, Agudio's attorney, told CNN in a statement:
It is also unfortunate that some in the media and public appear to have reached a conclusion as to what occurred in this incident without actually having the information needed in order to reach such a conclusion. Ms. Agudio, an exemplary young woman and an excellent student who has never previously been in legal trouble, asks that people not rush to judgment in this matter.
The University Police Department said that at on Jan. 30 at 1:04 a.m., Burwell climbed over a bus seat and hit Mary Glisson in the head and face, according to the Albany Times Union. Then, Burwell reportedly hit the left side of Gabrielle Camacho’s face.
Briggs hopped up from her seat and pulled passengers away from Burwell as Agudio climbed over her seat and hit Glisson in the head. Agudio then struck Gabrielle Camacho in the head and pulled her sister Marissa Camacho’s hair.
When Agudio noticed that Robert McCarthy was recording the incident with his phone, she reportedly slammed the phone out of his hands and hit him in the head and face, then ground her hands into his face.
According to police, Glisson suffered a neck injury as well as swelling and bruising on her face.
Later, University Police Department received a 911 from Burwell’s phone.
"Me and my friends were jumped on a bus because we are black," she said. " ... Guys continuously hit us in the face."
Burwell went on Twitter that same day and wrote: “I just got jumped on a bus while people hit us and called us the 'n' word and NO ONE helped us.”
On Feb. 1, hundreds of students congregated as Burwell tearfully told her story about the alleged attack during a campus rally, the Albany Times Union notes.
Burwell's brother, San Diego Chargers lineman Tyreek Burwell, also tweeted an intimidating message to a student who he believed hurt his sister, according to News10.com.
After the incident was reported, the hashtag #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany appeared on social media and The People of Color Caucus published a letter on Feb. 29 in support of the women, reports CNN.
“The evidence shows that, contrary to how the defendants originally portrayed things, these three individuals were not the victims of a crime," UPD Chief J. Frank Wiley said in a statement prior to the arraignment. "Rather, we allege that they are the perpetrators."
The evidence gathered against the three women include interviews with 35 bus passengers, video from security cameras on the bus and videos recorded on people's cellphones.