ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The University Police Department at UAlbany will be arresting three people in connection with a reported assault that took place on a CDTA bus on the University at Albany campus.
The incident took place just after 1 a.m. on Saturday, January 30.RELATED: UAlbany students claiming to be victims of racial bus attack to face charges
The defendants will face the following charges:
Ariel Agudio, 20, of Huntington, N.Y.: Assault in the Third Degree, Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree, Attempted Assault in the Third Degree, Attempted Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree.
Alexis Briggs, 20, of Elmira Heights, N.Y.: Assault in the Third degree.
Asha Burwell, 20, of Huntington Station, N.Y.: Assault in the Third Degree, Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree.
All three women were given appearance tickets to appear for arraignment at Albany County Court on Monday, February 29.RELATED: New details emerge in the alleged assault of three black UAlbany students
According to police, the assault charges are based on evidence which shows that the three defendants physically assaulted another passenger on the bus, a 19-year-old woman from Congers, N.Y. The false reporting charge stems from evidence which shows that the initial complaints made by Burwell and Agudio that claimed they were victimized, were false.
Burwell and Agudio made the allegations during 911 calls from their cell phones during the early morning of January 30, police said.RELATED: Security video, 911 calls from alleged UAlbany attack on CDTA bus
The charges were issued after evidence was 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 police from the university’s surveillance system, examining UAlbany building access records, and reviewing audio recordings.
According to police, video and audio evidence as well as statements from every witness demonstrate that no male ever struck the three women. Evidence indicates they were the aggressors in the physical altercation, and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them, police said.RELATED: Sources: Security video may reveal different story of alleged UAlbany attack
Community leaders were previously shown video from different angles.
“It seemed that the conversation that started, everything was started by the girls,” Albany City Council President Carolyn McLaughlin said.
Now that the charges have been revealed, McLaughlin believes the damage has been done.
“There’s no excuse for it,” she said. “None.”
Investigators also found no evidence to support the initial allegations that the three women were targeted in any manner due to their race. There was also no evidence that racial slurs were directed toward them.RELATED: UAlbany students create unity wall amid attack controversy
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.
UPD Chief J. Frank Wiley said the following in a press release to the media:“We took this incident very seriously and did a thorough and careful investigation. 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.”RELATED: Hundreds gather for rally after reported attack on black UAlbany students“Given the attention that this case has received, it was very important to do a thorough job. More than 300 investigative hours were spent, and I am very grateful for the good work of the investigation team and for the assistance we received from our partners in law enforcement. I also want to thank the many witnesses who stepped forward to assist us, and I appreciate the patience of the community as we took the time to do this right. I also would like to remind everybody that there is a presumption of innocence in the criminal justice system.”
UAlbany students are afraid of the precedent the incident might set. They also said there may be a double standard.
“Especially being from the black community, it’s not a good look if someone else were to make some similar allegation like that,” student Habeeb Famuyide said. “It definitely isn’t a good look, but we’ll stay patient. We’ll wait and see, and hopefully, things turn out alright for everyone.”RELATED: UAlbany hosts dialogue about race, diversity after alleged CDTA incident
Community activist Alice Green said the incident can be a chance for communities to talk about racism and avoid seeing a divide.
“What might have happened, are there reasons someone perceived this to be a racist incident,” she said. “I think all those things need to be discussed. Nothing is cut and dry here.”
She said it opens the door to a crucial conversation – one that may help others understand the different perceptions and opinions about race.
“Racism is a very complex, difficult issue,” she said. “There’s so many things that we need to understand, and if we can have the kinds of give-and-take and discussions about the issues of race. Those issues are much bigger than this.”RELATED: Community leaders shown CDTA video of alleged UAlbany attack
UAlbany student Jeff Rosenheck wrote a letter to school President Robert Jones. In the letter, he claimed Jones jumped to conclusions without a proper investigation.
“He sent us an e-mail saying 10 to 12 students assaulted and harassed these three girls, and it’s not fair because one student actually left campus because he thought his life was threatened,” he said. “I would like to see a formal apology saying he was rash in his decision to send out an e-mail.”RELATED: Student sends passionate letter to UAlbany president
Below is a statement from UAlbany President Robert J. Jones regarding the charges:“I have been informed of the outcomes of the investigation into the incident on the CDTA bus on Jan. 30.“I want to thank the University Police Department for doing a careful and thorough job, and I want to thank the community and our students, faculty and staff for being patient as this investigation took place.“This matter is now in the hands of the criminal justice system. I look forward to the resolution of this case.“I ask the community for its continued patience and respect as the judicial process continues.”
The defendants have kept quiet since a huge rally was held on campus to support them. Mark Mishler represents Agudio he spoke out on her behalf.
“We believe the charges are unwarranted,” he said.
Mishler also sent the following statement:“It is unfortunate that the University at Albany Police Department decided to charge Ms. Agudio. We believe these charges are unwarranted. 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. We appreciate those who have spoken out in support of Ms. Agudio. This case will now play out in the court system. We trust, in the end, that Ms. Agudio will be vindicated.”
Mishler also said the bus video does not tell the whole story.
Some of the 911 calls contain derogatory language and a racial slur. All of the 911 calls can be heard in full HERE.