Head-shop hit: Attack--- and response--- stun Corner shop owners

news-meachum2Seth Meachum decided to install security cameras after his father was attacked in Roots Rock Reggae.

Lloyd Meachum never saw it coming. He had worked on the Corner for 11 years without incident, so the last thing the 65-year-old shop clerk expected when he turned around to help a customer was to get bashed on the head with a didgeridoo. Another thing he never expected: that it would take police at least three days to collect tapes with images of his alleged assailants.

The incident occurred July 22 at a head shop called Roots Rock Reggae after a trio of young men had already been in several times. That wasn't unusual, says Meachum, noting that customers often check out merch at other establishments before committing to a hand-blown glass pipe or other piece of reggae culture paraphernalia.

But on the third visit, Meachum–- who was working alone–- turned to help one of the men who indicated he was ready to make a purchase. That's when, he says, he was struck from behind with the bamboo didgeridoo, which shattered all over the place.

"The violence was totally unnecessary," says Meachum. "They didn't have to do that, to hit a 65-year-old man in the back of the head."

Meachum fell over and got back up. He believes the attackers didn't expect that, and they fled with Meachum screaming at them as another customer entered the basement shop.

Meachum's son, Seth, who owns the store, believes the attack could have been much worse. A solid wood didgeridoo was on display beside the bamboo one used as a weapon, and he worries what would have happened if his father, who has had brain surgery, had been hit with the heavier blunt object.

Police responded within minutes of the approximately 3:30pm attack. And the next day, the younger Meachum visited the nearby CVS to see if that drug store's surveillance tape captured any footage of the three men. It did.

He says the video clearly shows the three men whom he describes as being in their 20s, with one black and two white. Yet he wonders why police haven't obtained the video themselves. He says his father had called the police officer who investigated the assault three times as of Monday morning, and was told the officer was on a four-day break.

On Monday afternoon, July 26, Lloyd Meachum said he heard from investigating Officer J.L. Sandridge, who allegedly indicated he was going to pick up the tape that could identify the attacker and his cohorts.

"If evidence comes to light, it needs to be picked up immediately," says former Charlottesville Sheriff's deputy and law enforcement watchdog Steve Shifflett. "There's no excuse to put them off three or four days. If CVS has it on a three-day cycle, it could be erased."

And if the officer was on a break, says Shifflett, then the case should have been assigned to someone else. Neither Sandridge nor Charlottesville Police spokesman Lieutenant Gary Pleasants had returned phone calls from the Hook at press time.

Both Meachums describe themselves as frustrated with police response and frustrated that the public hasn't had a chance to see the face of the man who would take a swing at a senior citizen in his place of business. And Lloyd Meachum calls the didgeridoo attacker and his pals dangerous.

"Let's catch these people," he says, "because if they do it to me, they'll do it to someone else."

Meachum also admits the attack has shaken him.

"I have some fear," he says. "I wonder if those guys are going to come back in because I'm an eyewitness."

Son Seth is worried, too. "I'm not going to let him work alone," he vows. And he's going to install security cameras. "I never felt I needed them before."


Not defending anything else but just thought I'd inform the public. The reason nobody did anything with the blood in ur car is because it's expensive for the state lab to do DNA testing. So you have to get the commonwealth attorney to ask for it and they aren't going to do it for a vandalism.

There has been cheating on police exams since they have been given. What you really meant to say is "hey young punks, GET OFF my lawn" They also use DNA, computers, and GPS more extensively since you stopped working in law enforcement as well.

While they should have look into videos earlier- modern systems record more that 2-3 days- it's more like 30 days. It's a digital world GSOE and there probably aren't tapes but a really big hard drive.

What it looks like is they are actually work an important but not critical crime - but hey you are never going to give them credit for that.

Face it, law enforcement ain't what it used to be. This new breed of rookie is simply looking for a job, a benefits package and a monthly paycheck. They will do anything to get and keep a job. Example, the latest scandal baking at the FBI right now, agents cheating on tests.

And we don't need more money for additional manpower. We need to do away with the specialized "gravy train" positions and put these people back out in patrol where they are needed to safeguard the community. I had a cop recently tell me he was covering two sectors in the city because they had nobody else availabe to work in patrol. And the cop agreed there was nobody else because they had all been assigned to specialized duties where they weren't expected to do much else.

Anyhow, back to the CVS video... if the cop working the case was off for three or four days, the cop shoppe needed to send SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, to CVS so as to retrieve and preserve this video. A patrol shift supervisor should have taken the initiative to drive up to CVS and preserve this video if he/she had a lack of manpower. I bet you Chief Longo would have driven up to CVS if he had been made aware of what was going on. And it's a shame he can't trust his troops to do the right and correct thing!

Do have to wonder if it being a head shop had something to do with the dilatory handling of the case.
However, the UVa Corner has had problems for years, if anything worse than what we hear about in the Downtown area. Muggings, assaults, fights,etc. Some involving UVa students as victims, some as perps.
This goes back to the 70s when an all night convenience store moved in. Suddenly whether a coincidence or not the Corner started becoming a magnet for hoodlums and this has continued.
Yes there might be a few old, harmless winos around when I was an undergrad, late 60s. But by the mid 70s a rougher, dangerous element moved in. I cannot help but think the increase in establishments staying open late and serving alcohol played a part.
The Corner is not what it was in the days of Anderson Brothers, Lloyd's Rexall, Chancellor's Drug Store, Paul's Newstand,Ed Michtom's and many other long-gone establishments remembered fondly by those of us who attended UVa in those days.

I'll bet they would have reviewed the tape if that 65 year old man had pulled out a pistol and killed them like they deserve.

I wouldn't classify this story as a "bad cop" tale. It's more about LAZY cops, or somebody dropping the ball because they didn't take the initiative to retrieve and preserve the CVS video.

I have no idea what type of cycle the CVS recorders are on. 24 hour cycle? 2 day? 3 day? Weekly? Monthly? I say it would be a shame to lose the video -IF- not preserved for whatever reason. When existence of the tape became known, it needed to be picked up and preserved 5 minutes ago. It wasn't done.

JJ Malloy, change the channel if you don't like the show.

Very Old Timer, you can bet on it! And even though justified, they would have charged the guy forcing him to spend $75,000 to present his self defense claim to a jury.

Halsey, there was no cheating when I went through the police academy. You were tossed out in a split second if caught cheating. We also had a guy kicked out for urinating in a sink, too lazy to walk to the restrooms. And one for consuming a beer during lunch. Another for drag racing on the streets of Waynesboro, Virginia. They ran a tight ship when I went through the academy.

And yes, I am up to speed on digital recorders. What if CVS had not been asked to preserve the digital file until the cop shoppe decided to stop by and pick it up 4 days later? Or better yet, has the cop shoppe even picked it up and preserved it yet? I would hope so.

So @St. Halsey: If it took the cops 3 days or 7 days or anytime up to 21 days to bother to stop and get the tapes if it was YOU that was hit on the head that would be OK?

I believe there's more actually going on than they can handle.

If I was Lloyd Meachum I'd ask the TV stations to post the video to help solve the crime. Or, perhaps his son could post it on uTube with a link to this story. The police have several recent sexual assaults/attacks to solve.

I wonder if the fact that they sell "reggae culture paraphernalia" has anything to do with the police's slack response.

On the topic of guns, in March of 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun (with ammunition). It's better known as "The Law Heard 'Round The World". While the latest statistics I can find are from 2005, the crime rate has dropped by 50% over the last two decades.

More guns in homes and businesses around Charlottesville will cut down on a lot these foolish crimes.

(There are exemptions to the Kennesaw, Georgia law of course.... felons, mentally ill and physically handicapped persons, and those who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine.)

While the latest statistics I can find are from 2005, the crime rate has dropped by 50% over the last two decades.
You mean like it has in many areas of the country over this period?

Didn't McDowall, Lizotte, and Wiersema find in "General Deterrence Through Civilian Gun Ownership: An Evaluation of the Quasi-Experimental Evidence" that there was no discernible effect of mandatory gun laws in Kennesaw and other localities on rates for various types of crime?

Wonder if the product lines there have anything to do with the police response.

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The Charlottesville Police departement doesn't care about these small crimes. Someone smashed my car window in in December and got blood all over the seat before stealing my personal belongings. I called city police and was told they were too busy, I would have to file a report online. Finally got a detective to come file a report and take a sample of the blood and have been ignored since then. Every time I called back to check on my case, the detective was not in. Voicemails I left were never returned.

Sick of Gasbag or not, he raises some good points that should not be ignored. CPD has dropped the ball & let it roll for miles.

I enjoy GSOE's take on matters. Thanks.

What point has GSOE made about this story that is other than a continuation of his usual "all local cops are bad, I was a great cop"?
I would wager that almost no one has a 3 day recording but go ahead and make other peoples technology the cops fault. Weak analysis only gives a false impression.

I have a suspicion that it was the nature of what the shop sells that probably caused the laxidaisal response of the cops. "Head shop? Right. Like that's our top priority." I'm not saying I myself have a problem with head shops, or that I think it's right to let personal bias interfere with a criminal investigation, but I'm just thinking the fact that this place is a head shop might have everything to do with why the CPD seems to care less about the incident. Just my conspiracy theory, and I could totally be off base.

They have the freakin video tape from CVS....seriously....they can't even review the tape?

I think the local LE needs to get a refresher class in Crime Solving 101. They can't seem to do anything right these days.

What is it going to take to make local residents and students feel safe in this "top 20 places to live" town.

I think Cville and Albemarle Co officials need to allocate more funds to LE for additional manpower, training and let some of the deadweights go.

Doesnt look like Kennesaw has been so safe this year

5 shot, 2 dead at truck rental shop in January

2 women shot dead the day after xmas


Charlottesville is no longer a nice place to live. Buy a gun = good advice. When I went to UVA grad school (82-85) I didn't have to worry about being murdered when I walked down Cherry Ave looking to score.

That poor man!

I've only been into that store once with a friend, but I remember thinking about how it has probably sat there as The Corner changed over the years. They seem like nice, quiet folks. So sad that some hoodlums decided to take advantage of them and that the police weren't interested in following up. Goodness knows that if they do it once, they'll probably try it again on another small business in the area.

If the local LE doesn't start taking crimes like this one seriously, they send a message to the community that criminals can get away with it. Charlottesville isn't going to get safer, it is going to get worse.

the bad boys hear about this and see the bums hanging around downtown and think they have carte blanche because there is no order - don't you think?

Charlottesville and UVa police...

There is a serious lack of adequacy regarding our law enforcement. While I am sure that there are individuals who do a fine job, the institution as a whole is mediocre at best.

I spend quite a lot of time in the UVa region and on the downtown mall, and I have witnessed and read about too many mess-ups on behalf of our boys in blue.

First, there was the incident where a paraplegic man was stuck by a police officer and then issued a ticket for his "transgression".
Secondly, there was an occasion that I witnessed first hand where a "downtown mall cop" reprimanded me and my friends for skateboarding across the Christian's cut-through while there was nobody we could have possibly hit, and this wouldn't have been so bad if after the scolding and the officer went on his way, a man didn't steal a fairly expensive video camera in its case from an apparent tourist right in front of Christians.

Incidents like these, coupled with the Morgan Harrington case, which I so far view as an embarrassment to local law enforcement for not 1) finding the remains sooner and without aid from the FBI and catalyzed citizen assistance via the 150,000 reward, and 2) being unable to make headway on identifying the killer seeing as we have a fantastic university that local law enforcement could cooperate with regarding forensic anthropology.

Who knows, maybe Morgan Harrington's murderer crossed state lines and is committing more crimes, which would place the case officially in the FBI's jurisdiction where some success could potentially be found.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the tragedy that occurred on humpback mountain, where Tim Davis and one of my best friends' sister, Christina, were both shot in cold blood by a man who's only motive was "I"M CRAZY!!!!". Has any headway been made on this case? Not that I've heard of, and if so, it hasn't gotten the media attention it deserves.

My condolences go out to all these people who have been victims to unnecessary violence, and then ignored by the very people who are sworn to protect us.

Reform? I think so.

Solar Ash - you rock. continue fighting the good fight.

never put your safety in the hands of the cville cops. buy a gun...

Our experience is that the local cops are prone to assuming that certain crimes won't be solved, and so they don't bother to investigate. We had a burglary a few years ago, and if we hadn't called the pawn/coin dealers looking for our purloined items, nothing. would. have. happened. As it turned out, we found our stuff, told the cops about it, and after several attempts, they managed to catch the guys. They were very grateful for our assistance, and appeared to be surprised that we were able to solve the case.

Bonus points for emmajane for using the word "purloined."

I'm almost sure it was one of the hoods (all Caucasian guys, by the way) who sit on their asses all day under the 14th Street Bridge, interrogating people for money from people who walk by. They'll even stand up and block your path to "ask" for money. Those are the first people I would question in something like this. If they're "homeless," then where do they get the money for cigarettes? I see them demand money from people who walk by, and then go in to one of the places on the corner, buy lottery tickets, then go sit back down asking for money again! If people would stop giving them money, they'd go somewhere else!

I'm really sick of this Gasbag Self Ordained Expert. No offense Mr Shiflett, just sick of you interjecting your opinions on LE on every other post on every other story

There is no cheating here now either(as always, there was no cheating you were AWARE of)- there has always been cheating in municipal exams in big cites and elsewhere- in fact it's probably much harder to cheat now than every. The FBI agent look like they got caught.

What if CVS had been asked to dance on the head of a pin as they made digital copies? The real point is they weren't and the police got the footage they should of. You points are quite meaningless. They did ask and if they had waited 4 more days they would have had 21 more days before most security systems would start erasing

Would it not be reasonable no to rush to judgement and let the police do there job? Your entire career is about how bad it is to have someone rush to judgement - let's try and do that here as well.

It isn't the show we don't like, it's the annoying static that you add to the signal.

the police are not going to look for these thugs.
The prosecuters are not going to prosecute unless they are caught and captured in the act
The judge is going to let them off anyway.

But the cops will still give people tickets for getting hit by a police car in a crosswalk
THe prosecuters will still charge misdemeanors as felonies and then plead down so they can be PAID per felony as the pay schedule allows

The judge will still put parents in jail for having alcohol at a high school party while down the streets 17 year old crackheads get "another chance"

Get a gun.

Does anyone really think that the cops give a doughnut about a 65 year old head shop owner? Heavens No! If you want police action you have to be tall, blond and in your early twenties duh. If a tall young blond UVA student had been hit on the back of the head with a digiridoo on the corner things would be different. But nah this was just some ole hippy head shop dude.

Solving a crime shouldn't be based on a price. This is what we pay taxes for. We don't pay taxes so they can all ride around in air conditioned gas guzzlers getting 8 miles per gallon on a good day.

Hey! The State Police have been working the city recently I bet they would have gotten the tapes.

JJ Malloy July 28th, 2010 | 10:32 am

I’m really sick of this Gasbag Self Ordained Expert. No offense Mr Shiflett, just sick of you interjecting your opinions on LE on every other post on every other story

I appreciate all posts on here. But personally, I think police nationwide do a good job. It's a dangerous job I would not want to have.

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This is so sad that throughout all these comments & Bickering back & Forth NO ONE has taken the time to think about or say anything to the Man who was injured. He could have died.Lloyd~I met you thru a friend of ours. The man that drew the Bob Marley Mural on your entrance wall. You were so kind to me. I want 2 tell you I'm so sorry this happened to you. You didn't deserve any of this. I'm glad you were not hurt more seriously or even worse killed. Thank God. It's really sad that someone would do this to such a nice man. From the first time I ever met you I could tell you were the type of man that would help anyone in need. Those PUNKS that attacked you will have 2 pay. There punishment will probably come from a higher power or Karma, But because your such a nice man trust & Believe they will pay. Honestly, I doubt it will be by the police hands. They wont do anything unless there's someway they can shoot someone and get away with it like I've seen happen in the past. RIP~Fredrick Gray & Many others who died at the hands of CPD

Honestly, I've never even HEARD of anyone having a satisfactory experience with UVA or Charlottesville police.
A few years ago, a mugger opened my car door while I was stopped at the light on University at Rugby Rd. He demanded my wallet (which, incidentally, I didn't have on me at all). My passenger gave him $65 and he ran off.
Ever on time, a police cruiser passing by pulled ME over (perhaps I'd been idling at that light too long... getting MUGGED) and administered a field sobriety test, all the while ignoring my complaints about the man who had just mugged me.
Absolutely ridiculous.

wow ... i am really surprised at the way this was all handled. no wonder no one likes Virginia.

I can't believe that some people here are actually indicating that due to the nature of the shop, that the cops are slack for it. If that truly is the case, I am shamed that LE would ignore armed assault and robbery of an old man. Just because one doesn't agree with a shop doesn't mean that assault of anyone is less of a crime.

Cowards are those who attacked.