No indictments in Allen fracas– yet
Almost a month after borderline violent images from a Charlottesville campaign stop for Senator George Allen splashed across cable news and the Internet, city Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman says that he will not press charges against the Allen supporters who tackled UVA law student and left-wing blogger Mike Stark to the ground at the Omni Hotel.
"No one sought to hurt anyone," Chapman says in a release. However, he does allow that "several individuals" could eventually find themselves charged with misdemeanor offenses such as assault and battery or disorderly conduct.
In the press release, Chapman explains that after weeks of analyzing the television footage and taking witness testimony, he concluded that "[Stark] made physical contact with members of Sen. Allen's staff under circumstances in which a reasonable person would be concerned for the Senator's safety and unsure of Mr. Stark's precise intentions." Those circumstances included Stark's much-publicized shouting of questions like, "Did you spit on your first wife?"
Chapman does name one man who he says went beyond simply protecting Allen: former Albemarle Republican chair John Darden.
Chapman writes that Darden reacted "with anger because of what [Stark] was saying, in contrast with the legitimate concern for the Senator that may have influenced his initial reaction," but Chapman notes that because Darden quickly released his grasp on Stark after tackling him, "this behavior is inconsistent with a conclusion that Mr. Darden intended to harm Mr. Stark."
"I'm obviously disappointed," Stark tells the Hook. "I think it shows political participation by the Commonwealth's Attorney." He also says he will meet with his attorney tomorrow to "weigh my options."
Attempts to contact Chapman and Darden were unsuccessful at the time of this post.
5:42 update: Chapman returned the Hook's call and says that if charges ultimately come about in this case, it will not be from his office. "Anybody has the right to go to a magistrate and offer their account, and a magistrate can issue a warrant," he says, "but we are not recommending to law enforcement that they initiate charges."