Viral justice? Chief Longo on the alleged “knock out game” assault on the DTM

A photo of the alleged attackers taken by Doucette on December 20.
A photo of the alleged attackers taken by Doucette on December 20.

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo has not had a pleasant couple of weeks. During a coffee shop interview on January 2, Longo took time to discuss the fall-out from an allegedly vicious, unprovoked attack on a white couple by three black males that occurred on the Downtown Mall early Thursday morning on December 20. A story on the attack that ran in Cville Weekly, which relied on the testimony of the victims, quickly went viral, prompting hundreds of comments, many of them so hostile and racist that the paper made the decision to shut down the comment section. Across the Internet, the story has been characterized as a vicious, racially charged “knock-out game” style attack, done for sport and entertainment on unsuspecting White victims. What’s more, the Cville Weekly story highlighted the victims opinion that the police had been slow to respond, and “didn’t seem to care” about seeking justice.

Needless to say, the barrage of emails and phone calls that Longo has received have not been kind. One man told him that his family was canceling their yearly trip to Charlottesville because of the dangers, and because of the “gross incompetence” of Longo’s police force. Others, of course, were not so polite.

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Ironically, its Longo who has for some time been lobbying for more police officers and beefed up security on the Downtown Mall, to no avail. One positive of the media firestorm, he hopes, might be a new willingness on the part of City government to reconsider his proposals. But, other than that, there are few positives for Longo about the story that has swept the nation before the police investigation has been completed.

What’s more, 18 months ago Longo implemented a new system for patrolling the Mall, in which it was treated as a specific “section/district” under a single command. Since then, the Mall has enjoyed a 38 percent drop in reported incidents. Indeed, in all of 2013 there were 9 aggravated assaults like the one alleged to have happened on December 20.

“The City has created this economic engine [the Downtown Mall] that has created a much larger potential victim pool,” says Longo, “and so you’ve got to give us the tools to protect people. And it’s going to mean more officers. It’s as simple as that.”

While Longo says he is determined to find the men who attacked the couple, he has questions about what really happened that night. There appears to be no question that the victims, 39-year old Marc Adams and his girlfriend, Jeanne Doucette, were attacked, but was this really an unprovoked, vicious “knock out game” style attack, or simply a late-night fight fueled by alcohol and an exchange of words?

“What really concerns me, is all the information that is out there that may not be accurate,” says Longo. “What has been posted thus far has damaged the reputation of our community, and has called into question the integrity and competency of good police officers, and has created an unfair perception as to the safety of our downtown. To characterize this incident as a “knock out” absent further investigation and corroboration is most unfortunate. Nonetheless, I will reserve judgement until our investigation is complete.”

For instance, questions still remain about why Adams fled the scene and refused to accept medical attention or file a detailed report with officers on the scene (he told Cville Weekly that his “brain was messed up.”), which may have helped the case move along faster. Also, why would so-called “knock out game” attackers choose the Mall’s most well-lit, heavily trafficked area for the attack? (Indeed, one of the photos that Doucette took during the alleged attack–and later posted on Facebook–shows the Blue Light Grill in the background with the lights on and people out front) Why would they allow Doucette to take photos? Why didn’t they take her phone? And, if it were a planned “knock out game” why were the attackers not filming the attack? Also, how intoxicated were the parties involved in the incident? Indeed, Adams was spotted by a reporter walking briskly past Miller’s after the attack, his face bloodied, wobbling as if intoxicated, and trying to get away from Doucette and the Midnight patrol officer who responded to the scene, who were following close behind him and pleading for him to stop. According to Adams, he suffered a fractured ankle, broken ribs, a black eye, a “smashed” nose, and the loss of a tooth. Doucette has said that she was struck in the head and neck, and that her ear was torn.

“Those are some of the same questions I have,” says Longo.

Adams and Doucette told the Cville Weekly that they didn’t say or do anything to provoke the attack, but the DTM has learned from two separate sources, who wished to remain anonymous, that the attackers may have been gay African-American men, and that Doucette told several people that Adams “said something to the men that provoked them” after they laughed at him when he tripped and fell on the Mall. Charlottesville police detectives are currently questioning these individuals to determine the veracity of the claims. The DTM asked Adams via a Facebook message, through which he had previously communicated with the DTM, if he had indeed said something to his attackers that might have provoked them, but he did not respond by the time this was posted.

While Longo admits that the case should have been immediately assigned to investigators following Adam’s initial call to police on December 21, at no time was the case dropped, as Doucette has alleged. As Longo explains, when a case has a “suspended” status it simply means that there is not enough information available to move forward, and he says the mid-night patrol officer that responded that night contacted Doucette to explain that, and to reassure her that they were pursuing the case.

Since Adams waited a day before contacting police, and spoke to a day officer not connected with the case, and Doucette waited until December 29 to provide additional details, the case did not get processed as quickly as it could have. Had Adams and Doucette cooperated more fully with police at the scene, things might have gone differently, Longo believes.

Instead, the couple turned to Facebook. While Doucette complains in a December 29 Facebook post that “ has come to this. Social Media. Sigh,” before recapping the incident and posting photos of the alleged attackers, the story actually broke on Facebook when Adams posted an account of what happened on December 20, the day before calling police. Cville Weekly reported Adams saying that “the head injury erased his memory of the attack,” but he describes it in some detail in his December 20 Facebook post, and in comments beneath it, characterizing it as a “Clockwork Orange” style attack.

Clearly, Longo –while admitting that a procedural breakdown caused the case not to be assigned to investigators immediately following Adams call to police –is not yet ready to characterize this as a senseless “knock-out game” style attack on the Downtown Mall.

“We need to finish our investigation,” he says, “then the whole story will finally come out.”

Stay tuned to the DTM for updates on the case.


David McNair View All →

DTM is maintained by Charlottesville journalist David McNair. Got a news item or new listing? Contact me at

20 Comments Leave a comment

  1. When I heard that the two were attacked were on their way from Millers to Rapture, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe a lot of alcohol was involved–it’s hard to leave Millers without a good buzzing going–just saying. It seems too fishy too think that these guys attacked this couple right at the busiest part of the night without provocation. It could’ve happened but I’m leaning not likely.

  2. Lenore April Arbaugh I couldn’t even finish reading that. Maybe I should have, but it seems to me that someone whose been knocked down and broken nose and what ever else is gonna “wobble”. And so what if he were drinking? Are not many young couples out drinking? Is he deserving of this treatment because he is drinking? That is like saying a girl is deserving of rape because she looks sexy. I just could not read this. And further more , laughing at someone who falls is aggressive behavior.

  3. Maybe I’m oversensitive, but the headline of this article bothers me. “Viral justice? Chief Longo on the alleged ‘knock out game’ assault on the DTM” The alleged “knock out game” assault was NOT on the DTM…rather the assaults were on Marc Adams and Jeanne Marie, two citizens, which happened AT the DTM. It is subtle, but has a minimizing sense about it. Especially in the context of the way the article is written.

    • Your complaint regarding the grammatical structure of the headline seems odd, mainly because it doesn’t have much validity from a grammatical standpoint:

      1. An individual does not commit an assault “on” another person. From a legal standpoint, you won’t find any court documents saying “The defendant assaulted on the victim…” Rather, a perpetrator “assaults [the victim]” and a victim “is assaulted by [the perpetrator].”

      2. “Assault on…” is, however, quite commonly used to describe the location or physical entity where the act takes place. The assault took place on the Downtown Mall. In local parlance, one often describes him/herself as being “on” the downtown mall. So from a grammatical standpoint the title of this article makes perfect sense.

      3. You also mention “the way this article is written.” It is clear that any given journalist writes from a given perspective, which may or may not align with your personal views. It is important that you take stock of the way that ANY article is written, so I would only ask that you also recognize that the Cville Weekly article (which was published first, has more views, and really framed this issue at the outset) was also written in a certain way which may or may not accurately capture what happened that night.

      4. It also seems odd that you would point out that Adams and Marie are “two citizens.” While we are all entitled to our own opinions, I would just ask that you stop to consider your use of that term. How certain are you that Adams and Marie are citizens of the United States of America? What underlies that assumption? Is the implication that the accused individuals are not citizens? Is the implication that if Adams and Marie were not citizens then the altercation would be less important?

      I don’t profess to have any inside knowledge about this incident and I apologize if you take offense to this comment. I just find it interesting that you are suggesting a certain level of bias in reporting, but doing so without really considering whether your other sources of information and even your own reaction might possess a set of assumptions that aren’t altogether accurate.

    • Jeanne talked to the police when the incident happened, Marc went in and talked to them the next day. Then the police did nothing at all for a week. I love it when people just make shit up they know nothing about. Mary Shuey, maybe you should read up more on this story and not rely solely on report full of lies.

  4. What a load of crap! Where do you make this stuff up from? Marc has many gay friends and to even suggest that he would say something like that or even know that the two men were gay is absurd. Why are you blaming the victims? Even if Marc did say something does that justify beating the crap out of him and Jeanne? Also, Marc did not “flee” the scene, perpetrators “flee” the scene. He left because he had no idea what was going on since his head was beat so bad he can’t remember most of it. Also, you fail to mention the fact that these men were laughing and giving each other high-fives as they were kicking the crap out of him. You are a pathetic excuse for a human Dave McNair. I hope you are a victim one day and people blame you just as you are blaming Marc and Jeanne. You will not fair well once the rest of the world learns about these lies you made up.

  5. Mr. Toro,

    While what Stevenson and Spears did was a crime, for which they will hopefully be punished, the victim’s initial characterization of the attack as a “knock out” game and “Clockwork Orange” style attack with no rhyme or reason appears to have been inaccurate. As the police investigation revealed, based on interviews with the suspects and the victims, the assault was initiated by a “verbal confrontation” between the parties. I can assure you, I’m not making that up. – Dave

  6. Mr. Toro,

    As the investigation reveals, the initial account of the incident by the victims is in question. Of course you’re positive I did not speak to Adams and Doucette. Nowhere in the article did I say I had, although I did say that I asked Adams if he had indeed said something to provoke the attack. I also left a phone message for him. He did not respond. Again, its unfortunate what happened to Adams and Doucette, and hopefully justice will be served, but the inaccurate characterization of the incident by the victims, leading the public to believe, as one blog put it, that random “Black Mob Violence” had occurred in Charlottesville, did a disservice to our community. If you have any specific information about the incident, I hope you’ll share it with the police and/or the Commonwealth’s Attorney, as that would be more helpful than venting here. Thanks for commenting – Dave

    • Nowhere did I say you said you talked to Marc in your article. Wow, you have quite the knack for twisting people’s words around. Please who me where I said that you said that. You were the one that initially tried to make up some stuff about it being possibly related to the criminals being gay, yet you refuse to comment on that. “the victim’s initial characterization of the attack as a “knock out” game and “Clockwork Orange” style attack with no rhyme or reason,” no rhyme or reason? How about the fact that it seemed very similar to a knockout game since they were laughing and high-fiving each other the whole time while they were beating on Marc? Oh yeah, you conveniently left that part out too. Or how about that fact that they didn’t stop until Marc was knocked unconscious? You even claim Marc was intoxicated because he was “wobbling as if intoxicated” after the attack. I am pretty sure you would be wobbling too if you had been beaten until you were unconscious. Marc and Jeanne didn’t do any disservice to the community, Jeanne simply said that is seemed like the knockout game or clockwork orange, they are not responsible for the whole of the internet blowing things out of proportion. You can’t seem to let go of this whole blame the victim thing you have going on. I really truly hope that this happens to you one day and you get blamed for it so you will know how it feels. No, actually, I know in fact that this will happen to you one day because of your Karma. You are probably the type of person who blames women when they get raped for dressing the wrong way. You are the worst kind of person.

  7. There would not have been an assumption of the “knockout game” if the knockout game didn’t exist. (so who has been playing this game for over two years) Perhaps these guys threw the first punch because they are simply unable to control themselves and not because they are black (“African American” is weird to me since neither of them look at all like Dave Matthews.) and it IS unfair for people to judge them for their skin color instead of their actions. But the real question is do blacks have a higher propensity to start trouble or have a lower ability to control their guttural reactions than other races? It is obvious that many people thinks so and many journalists send a lot of time trying to prove them wrong, Often after a violent encounter.

    The facts seem to be that on one hand the police show little respect for blacks and make some wrong assumptions, and on the other hand they excuse some really crappy behavior because they don’t want to be accused of being racist. I think the cops should show everyone proper respect and follow the law equally and if that means more blacks are arrested and imprisoned than so be it. If the means more whites are arrested and imprisoned than so be it. But the police need to show proper respect to the citizens and they often do not.

    This liberal town is full of white guilt that hurts the black community by not expecting them to succeed and trying to convince people that black failures are anyones fault but their own. It has not worked since the civil rights act and it will never work. Provide equal treatment under the law including proper respect and let the chips fall where they may. No one can deny that blacks who choose to succeed and are willing to work for it will not be held back any longe,r and no one can deny that those that choose to dropout , make babies and blame whites for their failure will never succeed.

    To Mr Mcnair… what is your criteria for deleting posts?… is it ones you don’t agree with or ones you can’t successfully argue with to make a point?

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