Alcohol Suspect Reacts to Photo
On Tues. September 26, one UCI student was surprised to learn that he was pictured on the front page of that week’s issue of the New University.
‘At first, I was like, ‘Whoa. I’m in the newspaper.’ You know, you’re kind of excited. … Then I saw it and I was like ‘Holy crap. That is not a good picture.”
The photo, which accompanied an article about an undercover police operation in which adults were arrested for furnishing alcohol to minors, showed the student (who wishes to remain unnamed) and one of his friends, a nonstudent, being arrested by police. The student, on the right side of the photo, is having his arms held behind his back by a female police officer.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, words that were carefully avoided in the article and the accompanying caption, such as ‘guilty,’ ‘convicted’ and ‘handcuffed,’ were thrown about casually in discussions of the article and the photo, especially on the AnteaterForum.com Web site.
‘You’re innocent until provenguilty. The picture just made me look really bad. The article’s well-written, so I didn’t have a problem with that. It was just pretty much the picture and the caption put me in a bad light. And pretty much people could tell … who I was.’
The faces of the suspects being arrested were blurred in the photo, but that didn’t prevent the student from being recognized by ‘five or six’ friends.
The main problem with the photo, according to the student, was that it was misleading because he didn’t purchase the alcohol.
‘I took the money to begin with, and as we walked inside, I told my friend, ‘You take the money, and I’ll go get the beer for us.’ … He wasn’t doing anything anyway so [we] might as well take two birds out with one stone. … He went and got the alcohol. He bought the alcohol. … We went outside and he handed it off to them. … I’m not trying to blame him at all, but … I didn’t do anything, really.’
The student said that buying alcohol for minors would be uncharacteristic for him.
‘I just recently turned 21, but [when] I was 18 I [didn’t] buy cigarettes for anybody. I’ve been asked before. It’s a bothersome thing to do, and then you can get caught up in stuff like this.’
The student is confident that the legal system will exonerate him in the end.
‘[I] went to a public defender and … to a few law offices to talk about the court trial. Legally, I didn’t do anything. They said I shouldn’t worry about it right now. … The public defender told me that sometimes they don’t even prosecute a lot of the people that get charged with this offense. In my case, she said it was highly doubtful that I would get charged. The district attorney actually reviews the whole case and the police reports. … I think there [are] video tapes of some sort, and clearly I didn’t do anything, so in my case, I most probably will luck out. Or if I do go to court, my fine will most probably be very small, as opposed to my friend, who actually did most of the transaction. … The public defender told me [his] could run up to a $3000 fine.’