Woman tries to stop tow truck, claims VCU Police assaulted her

Woman tries to stop tow truck, claims VCU Police assaulted her
Jessica Ennis (Source: NBC12)
Jessica Ennis (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A nurse's assistant is telling her side of the story after she was charged with several crimes following an altercation with VCU Police.

It all happened when Jessica Ennis noticed her car was about to be towed. She admits she parked improperly in a downtown garage. Police say that's when things took a turn after Ennis jumped inside of the car to prevent it from being towed.

Ennis was accused of assaulting an officer. She has filed a complaint against that officer, because she says there's more to this story.

It was a Thursday morning. Someone had just hit Jessica Ennis' car, which was improperly parked in a VCU garage. She came out as her car was about to be towed.

"The tow truck driver was actually willing to let my car off the link right then and there, if I had $125…I told the tow truck driver I had $70. I'm going to look in my car to see if I had the rest of the money. As soon as I got into the car, the police officer wouldn't allow me to look for the money…I got in the car and the next thing I know, he took my arm," Ennis said.

That's when she says an officer assaulted her - but police say she assaulted them.

"Did you become defensive?" NBC12 asked.

"I didn't become defensive. The only thing I did in my defense was, I started to call 911…That's when another officer came. His demeanor was completely different. He said 'go ahead and look for your money.' He allowed me time to look for my money. I opened my glove box, then I hurried up and closed it. He said 'okay, if you don't have it, go ahead and get out of the car.' So I got out of the car," she explained.

When she opened the glove box, police say they spotted marijuana and charged her with possession.

"I think it had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I have several friends. I have a boyfriend. I have people who drive my vehicle all the time...but that had nothing to do with me trying to settle with the tow truck driver to give them the money to release my vehicle," she defended.

The officers who responded were wearing body cameras. Police say they're not turning over the video, because it's related to the investigation.

"Everybody knows that a police officer has a gun on their hip, so it will be idiotic for anybody to kick, punch, touch or let alone assault a police officer. No one in their right state of mind would do that. That's not even in my character…To put that type of charge on me is very serious," Ennis said.

VCU Police is conducting an internal investigation.

On July 13, Ennis' obstruction and marijuana charges were set aside. The charge of assault on an officer was amended to a lower charge, in which Ennis was found guilty of refusing to aid an officer, which is a misdemeanor.

NBC12's Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin says generally speaking, a driver has the right to lawfully retrieve their car as long it has not yet left the property - although a fee up to $25 may be involved. He also adds it's never appropriate to become physically combative, even if the situation doesn't go your way.

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