A screenshot from the surveillance video shows Del. Marie March describing the incident to police. See full video below.

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Two surveillance videos from a Republican fundraiser in Wytheville on Saturday where Del. Marie March, R-Floyd, claimed her opponent Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick-County, assaulted her, were released Monday evening. One video shows March reenacting the alleged attack for law enforcement officers just minutes after it happened, but it doesn’t match the footage of Williams bumping into his Republican colleague as he was exiting the venue. 

In the second video, filmed at 9:01 p.m., March stumbles backwards, demonstrating how she claims Williams shoulder-checked her, which led her to file criminal assault and battery charges later that evening. But the video of the actual incident, recorded six minutes earlier and provided by Williams, shows him leaving the ballroom of the Wytheville Meeting Center at 8:55 p.m., followed by his wife, who is two months pregnant. 

In the video, Williams appears to pause briefly when facing March, who stands amid a group of people, and then continues to depart from the venue. The encounter took less than six seconds, and the video shows no evidence of anyone stumbling or falling. 

According to the warrant, which Williams received later on Saturday, March alleges that Williams “intentionally pushed/shouldered slammed” her as he was leaving the venue. Williams has denied this, telling Cardinal News that he accidentally bumped into her as he was leaving the event with his wife Britt, who is two months pregnant. “I apologized and kept going,” he said.

Williams learned later on Saturday that he had been charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. His arraignment has been set for Nov. 21 at 8:30 a.m.

When asked about the videos Monday, March said that the clip showing the actual incident was too blurry to make out what happened. “This guy hit me really hard, I promise you that, he came straight through to me. I don’t know what the need for him was, but it was a bullying tactic,” she said in a phone interview.

March also said that the video shows that the Meeting Center’s lobby was mostly empty at the time of the incident. “It’s going from an angle where you can’t really see me. But this was so very intentional,” she said. “I have never pressed charges on a human being in my life. For me to actually do that is because this guy was gonna nail me and I’m not gonna stand for it. He was bullying people all evening, and that was his grand finale.”

Williams, however, said that the two videos tell two completely different stories. “One is the actual video of what happened – nothing – and the other is the unhinged reenactment of March, where she clearly lies to law enforcement and wastes their valuable time in an attempt to smear me for political gain,” he said in an email. 

“Britt and I are relieved that it exists, because it shows the truth. March’s behavior here is reprehensible and completely unbecoming a representative of the people. This isn’t the first time March has put spectacle over decency, and it’s exactly why she does not belong in office,” Williams said.

Williams and March are both newcomers to the Virginia House of Delegates. They were elected last year, representing two neighboring, reliably Republican districts. But in December, the Virginia Supreme Court in December approved a new legislative map that put both lawmakers in a newly drawn district, turning colleagues into political adversaries that will be facing each other in a Republican nomination contest next year. 

Watching the incident play out over the weekend, House Republican leadership remained mostly silent on the intra-party feud. “Having worked in the criminal justice system for 25 years, I know better than to speculate about what may have transpired until witnesses are called in a court of law, especially in a highly-charged political dispute like this one,” Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said in an email. 

And a spokesman for Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, who attended the gala Saturday, declined to comment on the incident Monday. 

Above: Surveillance video from the Wytheville Meeting Center shows Del. Wren Williams (in dark jacket comiing on from the left) leaving the ballroom from the left at 8:55:40, walking towards a group of people that included Del. Marie March. He bumps into her at 08:55:42, then proceeds to leave. He turns around to apologize, as he later said. Six seconds later, he exits the venue. Video provided by Williams.
A close-up of the same video above. Williams is in the dark jacket, coming in from the left. Original video provided by Williams; close-up view extracted by Cardinal News.
March demonstrates to police how she says Williams assaulted her. Video from the Wytheville Meeting Center provided by Williams.

Markus Schmidt

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org.