Fayetteville man cleared of charges in 'iced tea' arrest

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Charges against a Fayetteville man for not giving up his iced tea can have been dropped by a judge. (WTVD)

Charges against a Fayetteville man for not giving up his iced tea can have been dropped by a judge.

Christopher Beatty, 28, was arrested in April 2013 during a confrontation with an undercover officer in the parking lot of a County ABC store in Fayetteville.

As Beatty was standing by his car, a plain clothed ABC officer walked up and asked Beatty what he was drinking. Beatty told the officer he was drinking a can of Arizona Iced Tea. The officer suspected it contained alcohol and asked Beatty to give him the can. Beatty refused and was arrested for resisting arrest and trespassing.

One of Beatty's friends captured the incident on video, which soon went viral on the internet.

Friday, Beatty said he felt vindicated.

"The evidence is there," he said. "I didn't do anything wrong."

However, the incident has cost Beatty.

"I actually lost my job," he said, "and I lost it due to this situation. With background checks, I can't pass anything."

Thursday, a judge threw out the charges, saying the officer's stop was unconstitutional.

"It was pretty clear," attorney Sherah Appel, Beatty's lawyer, said. "This officer did an investigative stop and he did not have any sort of basis to stop our client."

Appel said the officer did not identify himself when he initially walked up to Beatty and asked for the can.

"He [Beatty] had every right to tell the officer 'No, I am not going to show you what is in my can. I am not going to tell you what it is.' There was no smell of alcohol. That's why the officer came out there to see whether or not it was an alcoholic beverage," said Appel. "And once he did, he [the officer] should have left it alone."

In published reports, the assistant district attorney who tried Beatty said he clearly disagreed with the judge's decision to drop charges. The director of the local ABC board was not available Friday for comment on the officer's actions.

Meanwhile, Beatty said he is just glad an 18-month ordeal is over, and he hopes now he can find a job and get on with his life. He said what happened to him should be a lesson for other young people.

"I would hope for all African-American guys, any race, just be smart," said Beatty. "Don't do nothing violent or anything that will harm you. Once he identifies himself as an officer, then comply and deal with it later."

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