Charges have been dropped against a University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest sparked a public uproar and a state police investigation.
Alcoholic Beverage Control Department (ABC) agents arrested 20-year-old Chicago native Martese Johnson outside a bar March 18. The arrest received widespread attention with photos and videos on social media showing Johnson pinned to the ground, his face bloodied.
He was charged with public intoxication or swearing and obstruction of justice without force. Johnson says the arrest was unjustified.
Friday, Charlottesville General District Court Judge Robert Downer, Jr. dismissed two misdemeanor counts against charges against Martese Johnson at the request of Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman. Chapman said the charges were dropped in the interest of justice and the community.
On Thursday Chapman had issued a press release saying that his office will not seek prosecution in the Johnson case. The release says Chapman has reviewed the Virginia State Police investigation and based on that report, wanted to drop Johnson's charges. Additionally, the commonwealth has no intention of pressing criminal charges against the ABC agents involved.
On Friday, Johnson said he was "ecstatic" the charges were dropped.
"Judge Downer accepted the commonwealth attorney's motion to dismiss the case against Martese Johnson. Obviously, we didn't oppose that motion. We're overjoyed," said Johnson's attorney Daniel Watkins. "Our two main goals from the very beginning were to limit Martese's criminal liability and also protect his reputation. Obviously today, both those goals were achieved and Martese has been vindicated of the case against him."
Chapman will hold a meeting on June 17 at 1 p.m. at Charlottesville City Hall to detail all the evidence from the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Martese Johnson's Defense Attorney Statement:
On June 12, 2015, the Honorable Robert H. Downer, Jr. accepted Commonwealth's Attorney for Charlottesville Dave Chapman's motion to dismiss the arrest warrants against Martese Johnson for public intoxication and obstruction of justice based on an incident on March 18, 2015, near the University of Virginia campus.
Martese's attorney, Daniel Watkins of Williams Mullen, thanked the court and said that both he and his client are relieved. “This has been quite the ordeal for Martese, and we are happy that he no longer faces the threat of criminal prosecution.”
Trial was previously set for September 30, 2015, but the prosecution withdrew the case after reviewing the Virginia State Police investigative report that Governor Terry McAuliffe demanded.
“From the outset of this case, our two main objectives were to limit Martese's criminal liability and protect his reputation,” Daniel Watkins told reporters outside of the courthouse.