Three University at Albany students who claimed they were victims of a racial attack on a bus last month have been charged with assault as prosecutors said they were actually the aggressors. Alexis Briggs, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell, all 20 years old, appeared at Albany City Criminal Court today for their arraignment.
All three have pleaded non-guilty to charges of assault in the third degree, CNN reported. Burwell and Agudio have also pleaded not guilty to falsely reporting the incident. They claimed they were attacked on a Capital District Transportation Authority bus on January 30, but prosecutors say they actually assaulted a 19-year-old woman early that Saturday.
‘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,’ police said in a statement. In addition to the charges of assault and false reporting, Agudio faces counts of attempted assault, harassment and criminal mischief, CNN reported.
Burwell has also been charged with harassment. The false reporting charges are a result of the 911 phone calls she and Agudio made after the incident.
They have both been released and will be supervised by the Department of Probation. Briggs, who requested a public defender according to the Albany Times-Union, was released with a 9 P.M. curfew. ‘These charges would have a profound impact on the community, and in fact, if proven, are shameful,’ Judge Rachel Kretser said during the arraignment.
Agudio’s attorney Mark Mishler told CNN in a statement that the charges were ‘unwarranted’. He said Agudio was ‘an exemplary young woman and an excellent student’ and that she asked people ‘not rush to judgement in this matter’.
Police said during a three-week investigation, they reviewed video from 12 security cameras and four cell phones, and also interviewed 35 people, according to WNYT. University of Albany police released two surveillance videos of the incident.