This story now includes a video from the March 22 incident, which The Times-Dispatch obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The video, which The Times-Dispatch has edited for length, shows Capitol police interacting with Sen. Amanda Chase, who leaves her car at the barricade before returning to the vehicle.
Virginia Sen. Amanda Chase berated and cursed at a Capitol Police officer who refused to let her park in a secure area in downtown Richmond, according to an official write-up of the incident that occurred last month.
Police records obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch say Chase, R-Chesterfield, became “very rude and irate” when the officer told the senator she could not park her white Lexus in the Bank Street pedestrian plaza between the Capitol and the Pocahontas Building, where legislators’ offices are located.
The report says Chase told the officer she would not move her vehicle “unless you let the f---ing barricades down to let me in,” caused traffic to back up, and made a disparaging comment about Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar.
Officer Ashley Berryman detailed the incident in writing, saying she encountered Chase around 11:45 a.m. as Chase was trying to access the plaza.
Berryman said she told the senator she could not park inside the plaza without permission, but Chase became angry and refused to move her vehicle.
“She then proceeds to say ‘Do you know who I am?’, ‘I’m Senator Chase!’, ‘Don’t you see it on my license plate!?’, ‘but I guess you don’t care!’,” Berryman wrote.
The Times-Dispatch obtained Berryman’s report through a Freedom of Information Act request.
In an interview, Chase denied using foul language and said she did not denigrate Schaar. She said she was upset because she had been allowed to park in the area before and felt the officer was being “legalistic and dismissive” of her personal safety concerns by asking her to park in a deck with no police presence.
“I have never had a member of the Capitol Police be so dismissive and so inconsiderate of a public safety issue of an elected official,” Chase said. “It’s not what I’m used to experiencing from the Capitol Police.”
During the legislative session, Chase began openly carrying a pistol on her hip after what she described as threatening behavior from activists supporting the Equal Rights Amendment.
At one point, Chase allegedly referenced Schaar’s parking privileges.
“She also stated that ‘Madame Clerk, Miss Piggy gets to park her fat ass up front,’” Berryman wrote.
Chase said she would “never use the kind of language” alleged in the officer’s report.
“I always speak respectfully of the clerk,” Chase said. “I would never call anybody Miss Piggy.”
Schaar declined to comment.
Chase, 49, a former political consultant with tea party roots, has served in the Senate since 2016.
She said she routinely works out of her office in downtown Richmond when the legislature is not in session and was ultimately allowed to park where she wanted to.
She noted that the officer is African-American and said she saw Berryman allow an African-American legislative aide through while denying her access.
“I guess she thought I was white privilege. I was like, look I don’t want special treatment just because I have senator plates,” Chase said. “But I have parked here before.”
Chase said the March 22 dispute was the first time she had encountered Berryman.
The section of Bank Street was closed to traffic in late 2017 to create a temporary walkway between buildings as the state builds a new legislative office building.
Buses are allowed to load and unload passengers in the area, and it includes a handful of parking spaces that can be used by certain officials.
In her report, Berryman said she told Chase she was simply following the parking rules and suggested that Chase park in the deck assigned to legislators.
“She stated that she will not park in the deck because she is in fear of her life, and that there is no guard there and that she had been receiving threats,” Berryman wrote. “She also stated ‘aren’t you supposed to protect me’ and ‘you don’t know equality of women’s rights.’”
During the encounter, Chase left her vehicle near the bollards installed to block traffic, according to Capitol Police call logs, causing “4 to 5 buses to hold up traffic.”
Berryman said she asked Chase to move her car to allow school buses to pass through and the senator refused.
The officer said she called a supervisor about Chase’s “irate, boisterous actions.” After Chase returned from the Pocahontas Building and asked for a supervisor, Berryman told her she had already made the call, according to the report.
Chase said the officer “made up a lot of commentary” in the report, but she acknowledged she could not recall the exact words she used.
“I don’t use that kind of language,” Chase said. “And anybody that knows me knows that I’m a Christian conservative.”
Chase said the incident boiled down to a “new hire issue” for the Capitol Police.
Berryman has been with the Capitol Police since at least 2017. A September 2017 news release noted that she and six other new Capitol Police officers had graduated from a law enforcement academy and would receive additional training before being assigned to their posts.
Col. Steve Pike, the chief of the Capitol Police, declined to comment on the Chase incident, but said he stood by his officer’s report.
“I have no issues with what she wrote as far as the validity or the veracity,” Pike said.
A joint General Assembly committee sets rules and protocols for Capitol Square, and the Capitol Police officers are charged with enforcing them. Lawmakers who fear for their safety can request a police escort.
Chase said she didn’t think it was “practical” to expect her to have to call ahead to arrange that. She said she had “never been so embarrassed” to be told she had to stop and wait for a superior to arrive when the officer could’ve waved her through.
“I was not a security threat,” Chase said. “Let’s be honest.”