Knock, knock: men involved in Mall “beating” tell their side of the story

Kiara Redd-Martin, Richard Spears, Kishara Joy Griffin, and Malcolm

Kiara Redd-Martin, Richard Spears, Kishara Joy Griffin, and Malcolm Stevenson.

In an exclusive interview with the two men arrested and charged with assault in connection with a December 20 altercation on the Downtown Mall, which was initially portrayed as a “knock out” style attack for mere sport and entertainment by the alleged victims in the press and on Facebook, Malcolm Stevenson and Richard Spears offered their account of what happened that night. The interview was facilitated by Kiara Redd-Martin and Kishara Joy Griffin, two young African-American activists (and friends of the men) who say they feel “disappointed and angry” about the way the story was initially portrayed in the press, and encouraged their friends to come forward.

“We believe it was negligent journalism,” says Redd-Martin, a 24-year old graduate of Old Dominion University who is now pursuing a graduate degree in administrative justice, talking about the first story about the incident that ran in Cville Weekly, ” which did not take into account the character of these two men, or attempt to get their side of the story.”

“We need to hold our powerful institutions accountable,” says Griffin, a graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington , who says they plan to launch a protest against the Cville Weekly for its coverage of the incident, and for a pair of editorials penned by the paper’s editor.

As for Stevenson, 25, and Spears, 23, who are both openly gay, they say they were “shocked” by how a late-night drunken altercation on the Mall was portrayed as a “knock out” style attack. According to Stevenson, a graduate of the University of Virginia and a manager at Eppie’s restaurant on the Downtown Mall (he was suspended from that job after the story broke, he says), he and his friend Spears, who he describes as being “very drunk” at the time (Spears confirmed this, while Stevenson said he had only had “one” beer), were leaving Rapture at around 1:30am with a female friend, and on their way home, when they encountered the alleged victims, 39-year old Marc Adams and his girlfriend Jeanne Doucette in front of the Wells Fargo Bank building.

According to Stevenson, Adams was actually leaning on the building to hold himself up because he was “plastered” drunk. Doucette, says Stevenson, was trying to help him up so he could walk. Spears admits he laughed at the couple, saying “Wow, they’re way drunker that we are.” Stevenson says that Adams then fell down on to the Mall’s bricks, which made them all laugh.

Doucette, according to Spears, became upset at them for laughing, and began cursing at Spears, who says it was Doucette who said something that escalated the confrontation, calling him a “black faggot.”

Spears says that Doucette then charged at him and pushed him, and he pushed and slapped her back. Stevenson, who says he had been walking ahead with his female friend, turned back and got in between the two, pleading for them to stop. Stevenson then says that his group was trying to get away when Adams got up and began following them.

“I think he was just trying to defend his girlfriend’s honor,” says Stevenson,” but the more I told him needed to stop, that he needed to go away, the more aggressive he became.”

“Asked if they were “joking, laughing, high-fiving, and hugging” during the altercation, as the couple has alleged, the two men said “absolutely not.”

Stevenson says he continued to tell Adams to stop, calm down, and go home, and at one point, when Adams got too close, Stevenson pushed him. At that point, says Stevenson, people on the Mall at the time began to notice what was happening, and that an unidentified black male who was not part of their group, who Stevenson says is pictured in one of the photos that Doucette took of the incident and posted on Facebook, intervened and tried to calm Adams down. Indeed, Adams and Doucette, in their account of the incident in Cville Weekly, said they were attacked by “three” black males. However, only Stevenson and Spears were arrested and charged. Stevenson then claimed that the unidentified man “punched Adams in the face.”

Stevenson says he never struck Adams or Doucette.

“I’m not a violent person,” says Stevenson. “Violence of any kind is not me, anyone who knows me could tell you that. I will use my words before I use my fists.”

“Look at us,” says Stevenson, a tall, thin young man, wearing skin tight black pants, boots with high heels, a shirt with star buttons, and sporting the same long “skunk” hat he was wearing the night of the incident. Spears, who is studying full-time to be a massage therapist at the Virginia School of Massage, was shy and soft-spoken during the interview. “We are not thugs, obviously, far from it.”

According to court records, Stevenson and Spears have no history of criminal violence, although Spears has a 2012 “public swearing/intoxication” charge and Stevenson has several traffic violations. Adams has been convicted twice for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

“Mr. Adams was wasted out of his mind,” says Stevenson,” that’s why he fell. And I got arrested for pushing him away when he got in my face? Are you kidding me?”

At a press conference following the arrests, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo put to rest the notion that this was a “knock out” style attack, characterizing it instead as a “verbal confrontation” that escalated in to a “physical confrontation.” However, Stevenson said he’s puzzled by how the confrontation was described, given the fact, he says, that they voluntarily met with the police to tell their side of the story.

Stevenson says he isn’t saying he shouldn’t be charged with something, as he participated in the altercation, but he’s surprised that the police chose to charge he and Spears exclusively, both because there was another man involved, who actually punched Adams, and because of Adams and Doucette’s participation in the altercation.

“If I’m going to be held accountable for my actions,” says Stevenson, “then they (Adams and Doucette) need to be held accountable for theirs.”

Spears also mentioned that Doucette, while she was cursing at him, threatened him by telling him that they were going to be portrayed as thugs in the press “because we are white.”

“It saddens me in my heart that this happens to African-Americans all the time,” says Spears.

“We just want the whole story to come out,” says Redd-Martin,” and for the public to know that these two men are not what they were portrayed to be.”

48 thoughts on “Knock, knock: men involved in Mall “beating” tell their side of the story

  1. This is essentially a friend interviewing a friend, not an “activist” interviewing a “victim.” I knew Spears, and he’s known Martin for some time. Surely there’s no bias here. What a joke.

      • I guess Marc must have broke his own ribs and ankle, what a crock. This is all a lie. Marc and Jeanne are not violent people, and a certainly not gay bashers. When the truth comes out, you are going to look like a fool David. I also find it funny that a few days ago you “assured” me that the information you had was a fact that Marc had said something to provoke them. You can’t even keep your version of the story straight David. Which is it, did Marc start it or did Jeanne? Or maybe you never heard of the fact that criminals lie to try to get off? So you expect us to believe the evidence that shows Jeanne was clearly punched multiple times and that Marc had a tooth knocked out, broken ribs, fractured ankle, and bruises all over all came from a single punch from a third party? I think these criminals and their lawyer may need to adjust their story once they get hold of the medical reports, because it just doesn’t add up. But obviously you aren’t interested in the truth, because if you were you would show how their story doesn’t add up when it comes to the facts. All you are interested in is your grudge with C-Ville Weekly because they are still in business and you aren’t. I can’t wait till Marc sues your ass off and you are run out of C-Ville.

      • Trying to respond to Derek Toro here — I thought Chief Longo clarified in his statement that Mr. Adams only had had some “soft tissue injuries” and damage to one tooth. Thus why the charge is simple rather than aggravated assault. You mention “evidence” of the injuries — where is this evidence?

      • I think he’s implying that because you’re friends and have openly admitted to such, that your reporting of this matter is a little biased. I’d have to agree with him. I know none of them. And have based my opinions off of Chief Longo’s statements and the report on NBC29. These guys were in the wrong. Period.

      • Yes, it is quite possible that Marc tripped, twisted his ankle, fell on his face and chipped his tooth all by himself. Or perhaps it happened when he fell down after being pushed.

        Perhaps that push was justified as it is clear in one of the pictures of the event that Marc is in the guy’s face, just as Stevenson said. That made me question the story right from the beginning before any news reports were published. I looked at the body language in that picture and thought, “that’s not a guy trying to escape a beatdown, that’s someone looking for a fight.”

        Looking at the rest of the pictures, one can see that no one is attacking Doucette, she is actually being ignored in all but one while taking her pictures.

        If they were trying to escape then why were they at the fountain instead of going back to Miller’s or going to Blue Light where they could get help. Why is Doucette taking a picture of him facing off with Stevenson instead of trying to get him away to somewhere safe? It’s obvious her story doesn’t add up, that’s why there are no serious charges.

        As has been said already no facts have been presented showing any injuries to her nor any serious injuries to Adams. Doucette didn’t publish any pictures of them. It seems they haven’t given the police these medical reports, they seem not to be aware of them or else they don’t support what Doucette claims.

        McNair is just reporting those things that he is able to find out. It is not his version of the story to keep straight. As he reported, two witnesses said Doucette blamed it on Adams provoking them. Then these two guys say it was actually her that started it. It’s not implausible that she started it and then blamed it on her drunken boyfriend.

        Derek thinks it’s ok to report one side without question but it’s wrong to report the other side? Lawsuit? Lol. He’d be better off suing all his enabler friends. Poor guy isn’t going to make it to age 50 at this rate.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. Although I do not know Malcolm well, when I heard this I knew there must be another side of this story. For the few years that I have known him, I simply could not imagine him doing anything malicious or violent. It’s so important that both sides of this story be heard, and that the kind of journalism that the Cville put out there taken very seriously. With a town this size, these allegations are even more serious and detrimental to one’s life. Thank you again for this interview, I’m glad to see the other side of the story out there.

  3. Awareness is key we are not out to justify anyone’s action. We are motivated by something bigger than just this one incident. Support the movement to fight stigmatizations in the media that put us against each other racially all for the sake of a story line or buzz

  4. This is a really great article, I’m glad that we’re finally hearing Stevenson’s and Spear’s side of the story. Most of the other coverage doesn’t go into how Doucette responded to the two men laughing, which is vitally important for understanding what caused the violence to escalate. I find it completely ridiculous that the most-liked comments on the cville page call for charging these men with a hate-crime. I’m sick and tired of hearing the version of this story that claims white people were the victims, because they were white. The so-called assailants were also victims of the commonplace homophobia and racism that Douccette engaged in by calling them “black faggots.” As a queer man myself, I understand how hurtful the term “faggot” can be; especially when a straight person is using it to degrade and humiliate a gay man. It is not like calling someone an “asshole” or “bastard.” Calling a gay man a faggot is a kind of speech act, meant to cause emotional damage. Loaded in this word is an entire history of hatred, degradation, and oppression. Singling out Spears as a “black” faggot makes it a phrase meant to demean him for his race. In some countries Douccette could be jailed for this use of hate-speech.

    This first part of this story is not about white people being victimized; it is the same old story about white people instigating (physical and emotional) violence against minorities. The second part of the story, the story of its one-dimensional coverage by Cville Weekly, is also ages-old; white people claiming that they are the “real” victims in an attempt to cover up their own perpetuation of hatred. I find it absolutely shameful, but not at all surprising, that in their coverage Cville Weekly has ignored the racism and homophobia which underlies this incident. It is really great to see coverage of this incident which does not attempt to dehumanize these two men, and reveals that what happened was not a case of black-on-white hate crime, but another episode of (presumably) straight white people perpetuating hatred against gay men and people of color.

    Although I really like this article, and I’m glad that someone is finally covering Stevenson and Spear’s side of the story, I’d like to add a bit of constructive criticism on how it was edited. For one, the word “faggot” is misspelled in the sixth paragraph. Secondly, there are a few times when the wrong quotation marks are facing the wrong way due to incorrect spacing. Thirdly, there are a lot of extra commas floating around this article.

    Despite these rather tiny flaws, this was a great article. Thank you for bringing light to the other side of the story, David.
    -Luke

  5. This is a really great article, I’m glad that we’re finally hearing Stevenson’s and Spear’s side of the story. Most of the other coverage doesn’t go into how Doucette responded to the two men laughing, which is vitally important for understanding what caused the violence to escalate. I find it completely ridiculous that the most-liked comments on the cville page call for charging these men with a hate-crime. I’m sick and tired of hearing the version of this story that claims white people were the victims, because they were white. The so-called assailants were also victims of the commonplace homophobia and racism that Douccette engaged in by calling them “black faggots.” As a queer man myself, I understand how hurtful the term “faggot” can be; especially when a straight person is using it to degrade and humiliate a gay man. It is not like calling someone an “asshole” or “bastard.” Calling a gay man a faggot is a kind of speech act, meant to cause emotional damage. Loaded in this word is an entire history of hatred, degradation, and oppression. Singling out Spears as a “black” faggot makes it a phrase meant to demean him for his race. In some countries Douccette could be jailed for this use of hate-speech.

    This first part of this story is not about white people being victimized; it is the same old story about white people instigating (physical and emotional) violence against minorities. The second part of the story, the story of its one-dimensional coverage by Cville Weekly, is also ages-old; white people claiming that they are the “real” victims in an attempt to cover up their own perpetuation of hatred. I find it absolutely shameful, but not at all surprising, that in their coverage Cville Weekly has ignored the racism and homophobia which underlies this incident. It is really great to see coverage of this incident which does not attempt to dehumanize these two men, and reveals that what happened was not a case of black-on-white hate crime, but another episode of (presumably) straight white people perpetuating hatred against gay men and people of color.

    Although I really like this article, and I’m glad that someone is finally covering Stevenson and Spear’s side of the story, I’d like to add a bit of constructive criticism on how it was edited. For one, the word “faggot” is misspelled in the sixth paragraph. Secondly, there are a few times when the wrong quotation marks are facing the wrong way due to incorrect spacing.

    Despite these rather tiny flaws, this was a great article. Thank you, David, for shedding some much-needed light on the other side of the story.
    -Luke

  6. After reading the article in the Cville, I struggled as I thought that one of the photos looked an awful lot like my favorite person on the downtown mall, Malcolm. I thought, it cannot possibly be him, this has to be someone who just strongly resembles Malcolm and surely not the man I know to be one of the kindest, most mild mannered human beings I have ever come in contact with…. Sure enough, it is him and after reading the follow up articles online and watching the press conference I feel much better about the new details which have emerged which indeed paint a very different picture than that initially spun via social media. I have worked on the downtown mall for 16 years and have never in all those years met and had regular contact with someone as beautiful as Malcolm. I know that he would never hurt anyone, I just know it. This is a man that has never inspired any other feeling in me me other than love. I sincerely hope that Eppies puts him back where he belongs. I have no doubt now hearing the other side of the story that this account is true. Malcolm darling one, I support you ❤️- Deb

  7. While I appreciate you bringing out this side of the story, I do think it was utterly irresponsible of you to interview these men without a lawyer present.

  8. So is this suspose to make us feel bad for them? When you get that drunk this crap happens. Dont want to get suspended from work dont be stupid. If it went down the way this artical states then your still in the wrong

  9. As someone who both went to school with all these people since the age of 11 or so, and has worked downtown since the age of 15, I can say that given my person experience, I feel like this story (as most often do) falls somewhere in the middle. Just like Mr. Spears pointed out, these people are not thugs. They are very typical, average people. By all means I am in no way “friends” with these people post-high school, but from years of classes together, and the occasional social run-in, I can say that this doesn’t sound like them — at least from when I knew them. They are overall nice, personable, well-educated people. I’m not saying they’re saints: simply that they’re not thugs. I definitely feel as if the media took this story, and tried to spin it into being apart of this overblown “knockout game” epidemic. Given the details of both sides, and knowing the people involved, I completely believe that the couple who was “attacked” were the catalyst to this altercation. That isn’t saying however that I believe Spears and Stevenson are innocent, as clearly it takes two sides to fight. However I will say I’ve seen countless similar incidents in my many late-shift evenings working downtown; many wealthy travelers, businessmen, students, and even a few local politicians treat minorities (be it because of race, sexual orientation, sex, or class) in openly rude and discriminatory ways. All too often when an incident occurs because of their actions, they get away with it, sometimes quite literally because they pay their way out of it, as I myself have witnessed on numerous occasions. There has always been a sense of entitlement hanging over Charlottesville, as anyone who was born and raised here can attest to. I just think that by solely charging Spears and Stevenson, we’re just perpetuating problems that are swept under the rug all too often in this city. Much like Chief Longo himself said, it was a verbal altercation that quickly escalated. However, without video, photos, or multiple witnesses that clearly point to Spears or Stevenson as the aggressors, it hardly seems fair to charge solely them. Either charge everyone, or charge no one, but you can’t legally pick and choose who to charge without proper evidence that they indeed committed a crime.

    • I wonder if the City’s Dialogue on Race will discuss this incident. That should be punishment enough for all concerned and court time will not be wasted.

  10. This is only about race because people are making it that way. The victim had some serious injuries and according to the original news article, the assailants fled the scene and never came forward as if the time of printing.
    If I were innocent and had several people w me then someone would be calling 911 and I would never leave the scene knowing that alone makes you look VERY guilty.
    The police dropped the ball and maybe they need to up the security at the mall so these things don’t continue to happen.

  11. Thank you for this article. I have know Mr. Spears for several years. This seem so unlike him and definitely a departure from his normal character. Mr. Stevenson I do not know, However I am very impress with his statement (Stevenson says he isn’t saying he shouldn’t be charged with something, as he participated in the altercation….If I’m going to be held accountable for my actions,” says Stevenson, “then they (Adams and Doucette) need to be held accountable for theirs.”)

    So many aspects of this case have holes in them. Let nope that race can be put aside and truth prevail

    • So, what, did Stevenson say he had “one” beer by saying ‘one’ and holding up quote-y fingers? Or is this the author calling bullshit? Or perhaps the author has just pre-decided it couldn’t have been one beer?

    • It sounds like nothing but a drunken brawl with no serious harm done except for somebody picking up one of the fat planters and dropping it on somebody’s ankle according to Derek Toro. I am surprised that anyone was arrested or everyone was not arrested. If all participants were of the same race then it would have been ignored.

  12. Either they are extremely good story tellers or this is the truth. This explains everything I’ve heard about the whole situation except for the alleged broken bones and such. I say alleged because I have not seen a medical record stating that Marc has a broken ankle or ribs.

    This goes both ways. Nobody truly knows what happened except those involved and in a lot of these situations the truth is never fully revealed. It turns in to a “he said/she said” melee and eventually it won’t matter anymore.

  13. There are 3 side to every story. Both parties’ sides and the truth; which is typically a mix of the two. I’m glad these men had a chance to tell their side of the story, because right or wrong, they have a right to be heard.

  14. Pingback: Knockout Attackers Freed, You Won’t Believe What Happened to the Victims | www.independentsentinel.com

  15. I agree with Stevenson when he says that both parties should be charged with something. Adams could have broke his ankle in any number of ways. Especially if he’s stumbling about drunkenly. (I don’t think he was punched in the ankle!!) I think the story has been suspicious from the start, and to be honest, I’ve been downtown and come across these belligerent drunk couples that will say practically any racist, disgusting to you once they get a little alcohol in them. So I think there’s a very good possibility that Adams said something insulting. There were people all about that night, so I find it unlikely that a couple of gay men would suddenly start wailing on a couple without provocation. My biggest issue is this ridiculous portrayal that somehow scary, large Black people have become out of control, and are going around beating up hard-working, innocent, good whites. It’s ridiculous. And you would expect more from a city that prides itself on it’s liberalism.

  16. Pingback: Update: After arrests, differing accounts of alleged Mall assault surfaceC-Ville Weekly

  17. When you act like a thugs you get called out like a thugs. Black, white, green, gay, straight it makes no difference. If this was self defense then why didn’t they call the police themselves and stick around to tell their side of the story? Why run and hide for weeks if you’re in the right? Just because she called him a black faggot does not justify him punching her. He punched her and he admitted it to the police when they turned themselves in. Doing a little back peddling I say. They beat that man! 3 men, beat 1 man. Knocked his tooth out, slammed him to the ground. Why? Because of racial and sexual preference slurs? These people can make it about race all they want. I say bullshit. It’s always about that. It can’t simply be about drunk people acting like assholes and then some of them acting like thugs and low life’s. I’m sorry their retaliation was a little extreme. Period! Oh by the way thugs come in all colors. Are they trying to coin that phrase too? Wrong is wrong! That couple no matter what they said deserved the beating these 3 men gave them. My opinion.

  18. “It saddens me in my heart that this happens to African-Americans all the time,” says Spears

    What should sadden your heart is that MLK is spinning in his grave watching blacks spill blood on every boulevard named after him in this country… That blacks sit in the back of the class and sleep in every high school named after him in this country. What should sadden you is that blacks commit so many crimes and blame the white man for all of their communities ills and never stop playing the race card.

    The ONLY reason this was even considered to be a knockout game was because BLACKS have been “playing” the knockout game hundreds of times around the country and not once has anyone been charged with a hate crime for it.

    if BLACKS had not done that then this might have been looked at differently. (although I will admit it still would have looked like blacks assaulting “people” since that seems to be the norm if you read the local papers or watch the news for more than a week. )

    The guys threw punches and need to pay the price. Cut a deal an move on. BUT, they need to be mad at the blacks before them who did violent crimes not whites before them who took the punch and made a reasonable assumption that nothing changes but the weather….

    • I am sure Stevenson earned his college degree by sleeping in the back of the class. Bill Marshall’s comments would be truer if he had substituted “blacks and whites” for “blacks” throughout since MLK spoken not only to blacks but also to whites and it seems more whites attend his commemorative events each year than anybody else. Better still, use “Americans” instead for an even greater truth. Try it Bill Marshall. I’m sure you won’t like it.

  19. It is a shame that bad people with black skin in America give all blacks a bad name… If blacks had not knocked out people over 100 times in the last couple of years no one would have made any assumptions other than this being a typical black on white crime which happens all the time.in almost any city in america.

    The people did admit to assulting someone over being called a slur , so if you did it than take the punishment for not being able to control yourself. You don’t get a get out of jail free card because someone called you a name.

    • I am sure Stevenson earned his college degree by sleeping in the back of the class. Bill Marshall’s comments would be truer if he had substituted “blacks and whites” for “blacks” throughout since MLK spoken not only to blacks but also to whites and it seems more whites attend his commemorative events each year than anybody else. Better still, use “Americans” instead for an even greater truth. Try it Bill Marshall. I’m sure you won’t like it.

    • Black people are not the only ones participating in the “knock-out” games. It’s is sad in this day and age you can not see this. I have been told all of my life that you see what you want to see and in this case it certainly is true.

  20. Does anyone believe these two black men randomly targeted a completely innocent couple purely for vicious sport, as the victims originally claimed in the press? Seriously, I’m curious.

  21. Pingback: Racist Media Bias in Cville Sparks Dangerous Results - You Can Help Local Activists Fight Back! - Wayside Center for Popular Education | Wayside Center for Popular Education

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  24. So, both parties were possibly heavily intoxicated. Hmmm.

    How about we ask if the bars serving them are also culpable?

    Seems the Cville story is slanted and sloppy, as it wasn’t explored if those “assaulted” were drunk (and disorderly).

    And how do they all have such good memories?

    • Who says they got drunk in a bar? Some people save money by getting drunk in the parking garage then go hang out on the Mall.

  25. Pingback: Men charged in Mall assault file charges against alleged victims | THE DTM

  26. Does anyone believe these two black men randomly targeted a completely innocent couple purely for vicious sport, as the victims originally claimed in the press?

    I think everyone knows that some men sometimes target other innocent people purely for sport. Let’s hope, for the sake of the vast majority of black men – who don’t do it, and find it reprehensible, but suffer because of the small minority who do – that these guys didn’t. But that’s what has to be determined in court.

    Meanwhile, what was wrong with Cville reporting that the incident “appears to have been a random act of violence”? What were they supposed to do, wait to report on an apparent beating until they could find the alleged assailants even the police couldn’t find?

  27. Pingback: Knock at the door: Protesters accuse C-Ville Weekly of “inflaming racial tensions” | THE DTM

  28. Pingback: Knock Out Knocked Out: parties on both sides convicted of assault in Mall beating case | THE DTM

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