WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH –– The Wrightsville Beach Police Department announced Wednesday that an investigation of an alleged assault case that received viral attention on social media is complete. Due to insufficient evidence, no arrests were made.
In a press release, Chief Dave Squires explained investigators and members of the district attorney’s team concluded a critical case review Monday.
The incident occurred in the early morning of July 14 on the beach strand east of East Salisbury Street. Police responded to a call and discovered two groups of two people.
All four people had suffered recent injuries, according to the release, and both groups reported that the other had attacked them.
The police department said it could not establish probable cause to arrest anyone at that moment.
“It was unclear who was or whether there was a primary aggressor,” Squires wrote in the release.
Squires said medical treatment was made available and officers took statements, collected evidence and filed a report. The following day, one party wrote about the incident on Facebook and included photos of their injured faces, covered in sand. The post accused the police of mishandling the situation. Commenters suggested the alleged attack was racially motivated since the two women are Black.
The chief said the same day, he confirmed a follow-up investigation was assigned to the agency’s senior investigator, and the district’s attorney office would be consulted.
No witnesses to the incident came forward. After interviewing the two parties, the investigator shared his findings with the district attorney’s office to come to the final decision, the release stated.
“The decision to not arrest or to not prosecute is a reflection of our shared commitment to be guided by the evidence and not by assertions or sentiment,” Squires wrote. “The principle that no one should be arrested or prosecuted without probable cause being established, is foundational to our system of justice.”
District Attorney Ben David added, “My senior prosecutors and I, who have reviewed this case, endorse the conclusions contained in the letter.”
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