Police arrest two in Downtown Mall assault

Richard Bernard Spears, left, and Malcolm James Stevenson have been charged with misdemeanor assault. Photo: Charlottesville Police Department Richard Bernard Spears, left, and Malcolm James Stevenson have been charged with misdemeanor assault. Photo: Charlottesville Police Department

Charlottesville Police have arrested two men in association with the December 20 assault on the Downtown Mall.

Malcolm James Stevenson, 25, and Richard Bernard Spears, 23, surrendered on Wednesday, January 8, according to Police Chief Tim Longo, who announced the arrests at a same-day press conference. Each has been charged with misdemeanor assault. Two other people who were part of  their group did not participate in the assault, said Longo, and have been cooperating with investigators.

According to Longo, statements by the accused assailants and interviews with the victims, Marc Adams and Jeanne Doucette, and several witnesses, led police to conclude the assault began as Doucette has previously described, while she and Adams walked east on the Mall from Miller’s toward Rapture at around 1:40am on Friday, December 20.

After Adams fell, Stevenson and Spears, who were standing nearby, “mocked and made fun of him,” said Longo. After Adams asked the men what they’d said, “Malcolm Stevenson lifted him up and threw him to the ground.” According to Longo, it was Spears who allegedly punched Doucette in the head.

There is no evidence that the assault was racially motivated, said Longo, who further noted there is no suggestion that Adams made any statements that would suggest racial or other bias against the assailants.

While the Emergency Communications Center told C-VILLE only a single 911 call was placed, Longo said there were two 911 calls placed about the incident, both by parties who refused to give their names, but who described an unconscious man.

Longo also addressed concerns that the department was slow to respond to the report. He said that an investigation did commence immediately and that the officers who’d taken the report had been following up, but acknowledged that it should have been assigned to a detective earlier. He first saw the file and assigned it to the investigative unit, he said, when he returned to work after the holidays on December 30.

That delay did two things, he said. “One, it created the perception that the department didn’t take the matter seriously, and two, it gave the impression that nothing was being done,” Longo said.

He said a new policy instituted in the wake of the incident requires multiple captains and the investigations commander to review every new report placed in the system daily “to make sure it was assigned properly.”

Stevenson and Spears have been released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to appear in Charlottesville District Court on February 5. Longo said the current misdemeanor charges could be raised to something more serious if Adams provides additional documentation of his injuries. Currently, Longo said, police only have documentation of a lost tooth and soft tissue damage.

Adams and Doucette did not immediately respond to C-VILLE’s request for comment.