Three SUNY Albany students who claimed they were victims of a racially motivated attack may have been the aggressors, police said Thursday — and they’ll soon face charges.
The students will be arrested about four weeks after allegedly assaulting a passenger on a city bus, then lying about what happened, leading to national outrage over an apparently fabricated story.
The three students — Alexis Briggs, from Huntington, Ariel Agudio, from Elmira Heights, and Asha Burwell, from Huntington Station — will be charged with third-degree assault, police said. Agudio and Burwell will also be charged for falsely reporting the incident.
The women, who are all 20 and African-American, claimed on Jan. 30 that up to a dozen white classmates spewed racial insults and ganged up on them on a bus.
The alleged assault led to a massive rally on campus, and supporters nationwide used the hashtag #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany to show solidarity online. Hillary Clinton tweeted about it, writing: “There’s no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus.”
But police said an investigation revealed there was only one victim: A 19-year-old woman from Congers, N.Y., who was beaten by Briggs, Ahudio and Burwell.
“The evidence indicates they were actually the aggressors in the physical altercation, and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them,” police said in a statement.
The victim has not been named.
Witness interviews and surveillance footage also indicated the students were never “targeted in any manner due to their race,” police said. But they may have done so to their victim.
“The only person we heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants.” police said, not specifying the victim’s race.
Video of the assault will soon be released, police said.
The Albany Times-Union weeks ago published a short, obscured cellphone video of the attack, but the footage gave no clear idea of what happened on the bus. The frantic clip appeared to show two women fighting as the other passengers tried to break them up.
Burwell was the only accuser who had been identified before Thursday’s announcement.
There’s no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus. https://t.co/ADVghl4iEv -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 4, 2016
She actively tweeted about the incident when it first made headlines, but has not written anything since Feb. 11, when she posted: “Please don’t confuse my silence with defeat. I’m still fighting this, like I said I will not give up. The truth will come out soon.”
She did not return Daily News calls for comment. Briggs did not return calls and Agudio could not be reached for comment.
Each student is due in court Monday.