The third defendant in the University at Albany CDTA bus fight that made national headlines has accepted a plea deal. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was in Albany County Court Tuesday afternoon when 21-year-old Alexis Briggs read a tearful apology...
Like her friends Asha Burwell and Ariel Agudio, Briggs was given a second chance to take a plea bargain to avoid prosecution in the January CDTA bus fight, an event some labeled a "race hoax." "I'd like to apologize to the community and all the people and all the people affected by the events that occurred on January 30th."
Briggs admitted before Judge Stephen Herrick that she and her friends were the aggressors in that January fight aboard a CDTA bus where the three African American women claimed they were physically and verbally attacked by 20 white people. Video from the bus and interviews conducted by police proved otherwise.
She further told Herrick that she regretted attending a huge campus rally and vigil held on behalf of the three "victims" and never thought the incident would attract the amount of attention it did.
Briggs, Burwell and Agudio were indicted in May by a grand jury after turning down an offer to make a public apology.
The other two defendants both rejected plea deals when they appeared in Herrick's court June 17.
On Tuesday Briggs admitted to a reduced charge: disorderly conduct, and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. She waived her right to appeal, and avoids any criminal conviction. Her attorney William Little: "You know she's very pleased to put this entire matter behind us. Given the way things can go with trials, there's always a risk. And she's being offered a non-criminal offense violation. She definitely has a bright future ahead of her, she's a very smart young woman."
Albany County D.A. David Soares, who had acted as a buffer of sorts when he called local black leaders to his office to view the CDTA bus tapes before they were publicly released, issued a statement: “Her apology to the University community and to the students affected by this incident will enable her to move forward to the bright future that lies ahead of her.”
Little added Briggs just wants to "get her life together," that her apology "came from her heart," and she will be returning to finish school, but not at UAlbany, where she had acquired "almost enough credits to graduate."
On Facebook Briggs listed her UAlbany studies as Linguistics, Communications and Journalism. She was suspended from the school for two years.
According to Little, Briggs will not testify against the two other women. "I think I set that straight from the get-go that that would not be any part of any plea deal."
Mark Mishler, attorney for Agudio, sat stoically in the gallery during Tuesday’s court appearance. He refused to speak with reporters.
Agudio and Burwell were expelled from UAlbany. Their cases go to trial in September.