UVA student Martese Johnson seeks to have charges dropped in bloody run-in with campus authorities


Martese Johnson wants his name cleared.

The 20-year-old University of Virginia student made national headlines in March after a run in with campus authorities left him bloody and charged with a pair of misdemeanors.

As reports: “The violent arrest occurred in the early-morning hours of March 18 outside an Irish pub in Charlottesville as students celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. According to (Attorney Daniel) Watkins, Johnson was detained illegally by the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) special agents after the student was denied entry to the bar.

“Noticing that Johnson was turned away from the bar, an ABC officer approached Johnson and grabbed his arm. After Johnson pulled his arm from the officer and continued walking away, a second ABC special agent helped arrest Johnson for public intoxication and obstruction without force.”

Johnson’s lawyer, Daniel Watkins, says ABC never had “reasonable suspicion to detain him” and all charges against his client should be dropped.

“This shouldn’t even be a case. I read the police report of the arresting officers and I think that they made a mistake here and they acted beyond their lawful authority,” Watkins said. “The two agents slammed Mr. Johnson headfirst into the sidewalk, causing his head to bleed considerably, then shackled Mr. Johnson’s ankles and transported him away from the scene.”

The case became a national story after cellphone footage of the incident went viral. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has since ordered a thorough investigation into the incident and issued an executive order requiring ABC agents to take part in a cultural diversity training program.

Johnson will appear in an Charlottesville court on Thursday, May 28 to find out if his motion to have the charges dropped will be granted.

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