Student Charged in Police Assault
A Mary Washington student was subdued with a Taser gun and arrested in an incident involving the assault of a police officer Saturday night at Sunset Thai, a restaurant in Central Park.
Sophomore Andrew Loney, 19, of Fredericksburg, was charged with a felony charge of assault of an officer as well as two misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and underage purchase and possession of alcohol, according to Natatia Bledsoe, public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.
Assault of an officer is a class six felony that, if convicted, carries a mandatory minimum of six months confinement, according to the Code of Virginia.
“I’ll continue to fight the charges,” Loney said in a phone message on Thursday, Jan. 28. “I greatly appreciate all the support from my friends, family and my fellow UMW students.”
Two other students—an 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man —were also arrested at the restaurant for underage possession of alcohol and released.
At 11:25 p.m. on Saturday, Fredericksburg police showed up at Sunset Thai, after they had received an anonymous complaint that there was underage drinking going on at the restaurant. According to Bledsoe, the caller was a UMW student who wished to remain anonymous and who did not name any of those allegedly drinking underage.
According to the police report, when police arrived at Sunset Thai, an officer located an underage female with a beer in her hand, who was detained without incident. Police asked Loney, who was with the female student, for his identification.
Loney refused to show the officer his ID and struggled when the officer tried to escort him out of the bar area, according to Bledsoe.
According to the report, Loney pushed the officer, who fell backward and hit his head. After getting back on his feet, the officer arrested Loney with the assistance of other officers.
Bledsoe confirmed that Loney was subdued with the Taser “due to his persistent non-compliance.”
A Taser is a law-enforcement weapon that can cause temporary paralysis.
Loney was held at Rappahannock Regional Jail with no bond. He was arraigned and released on Tuesday morning, according to the Fredericksburg General District Court records. A preliminary hearing is set for March 4.
The officer was treated at Mary Washington Hospital for a head injury and a sprained finger, Bledsoe said. He has been on a break from duty this week and has said he will be back at work on Friday, Jan. 29, Bledsoe said.
According to Bledsoe, the case has been turned over to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which will have an agent conduct an investigation.
The ABC agent assigned to the case could not be reached for comment.
According to Andrew Boonurai, owner of Sunset Thai, two staff members were checking ID’s of those entering the restaurant and marking the hands to differentiate between those over 21 and those under 21.
“People over 21 got an even number and people under 21 got an odd number,” Boonurai said.
Out of the approximately 80 people at Sunset Thai on Saturday night, about 16 were marked as underage, Boonurai said. He said they only let in a certain number of guests that are under 21.
He said the restaurant frequently double checks ID’s against Facebook profiles of those who had RSVP’d on the Facebook event to make sure the birthdays match.
Boonurai also said there were three bouncers around the bar area whom he told to specifically watch those marked as being underage.
“We have never had a problem with underage drinking here,” he said.
He said he doesn’t remember if Loney was marked as being over 21 or under 21.
“Kids probably drank before they got here,” he said. “We won’t let anyone in who is intoxicated.”
Boonurai acknowledges, however, that someone could have briefly acted sober long enough to fool a bouncer.
“You can hold it in for 15 seconds I guess,” he said.
In response to what happened on Saturday, Boonurai said he may decide to make college nights at Sunset Thai exclusively for those over 21.