Tara Shea's Misdemeanor Charges Reduced

Tara Shea's Misdemeanor Charges Reduced

Tara Shea, the 28-year-old Bowie, Md. woman who leveled accusations of brutality against Vienna police in January, faced two misdemeanor charges in the Vienna courtroom Monday morning.

Shea was stopped by police on Nutley Street in the early morning of Saturday, Jan. 7 on the suspicion of intoxication, and a struggle ensued. Accounts of the altercation vary, but the result was that Shea suffered injuries to her face and head, described at the time by her father, Timothy Shea, as including a broken nose, damaged orbital bones around her eyes — which he said were swollen almost closed — a split lip and multiple scratches and bruises.

She was charged with driving while intoxicated, carrying a concealed weapon and two felony counts of assaulting a police officer. The weapon charge was for a knife that her father said she used at work.

Monday morning, the driving while intoxicated charge was amended to a charge of reckless driving.

Town Attorney Steve Briglia explained that the charge had been amended because a blood sample had not yet been returned. Shea's blood-alcohol level had been determined from a blood sample taken at the hospital, where she was transported after the struggle with police. Because this is not the standard means of testing intoxication, she was entitled to have the blood tested by an independent entity.

The sample kept by the state tested just above the legal limit, said Briglia, but the sample submitted for independent testing had not yet been returned.

"At some point, I can't keep asking for continuances," he said.

Shea was sentenced to a six-month suspension of her driver's license, with eligibility for restricted privileges; a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended; a fine of $700, $400 of which was suspended; and participation in the Alcohol Safety and Prevention (ASAP) program.

Her attorney, Peter Greenspun, asked that she be allowed to attend a comparable program in Maryland.

The town settled for the destruction of the knife without pursuing further penalty. Briglia described the blade as a "folding, hunting, sport-type knife," which he did not believe was of the sort that is illegal to carry tucked away.

Shea will face the two felony police assault charges next Monday in the Fairfax Courthouse.

— Mike DiCicco