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ABC Agents Return to Active Duty Following UVA Student Arrest

Posted: Updated: Aug 10, 2015 09:19 PM
File Image: Martese Johnson being detained outside a bar on the UVA Corner File Image: Martese Johnson being detained outside a bar on the UVA Corner
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The special agents with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) involved in the arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson are officially back on the job.

Three agents returned to active duty Monday. They were placed on leave after the controversial arrest last March outside a bar on the Corner area of UVA.

At Governor Terry McAuliffe’s request, Virginia State Police (VSP) conducted both an administrative and criminal investigation but no one was charged.

A release from the ABC says the agents involved did not violate agency policy.

Johnson's bloody arrest sparked national controversy. His attorney, Daniel Watkins, says his client never wanted the ABC agents to lose their jobs.

"It's important to understand that although criminal liability may not attach to the behavior of a person - in this instance obviously Martese - that doesn't necessarily mean that the arresting officer - the officer who initiated the stop - broke any rules, broke and internal rules, broke any internal policies," Watkins said.

The community has also chimed in on the conversation. Aryn Frazier of the university's Black Student Alliance says despite the report from Virginia State Police, the officers were still in the wrong. “The fact that it's not a policy violation is more indicative of the fact that we have, you know, broken policies in our law enforcement agencies and more broadly in our criminal justice system than it is an indication that these officers were guilt free.”

The ABC says mandated training has been completed ahead of schedule. The two-week long training session covered use of force, cultural diversity, effective youth interaction and community policing.

Both the VSP and ABC are refusing to release a full report: VSP says the report is exempt from any mandatory disclosure law, while the ABC says it's considered a personnel record.


Statement from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control:

On March 19, 2015, certain special agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) were removed from active duty pending an administrative review of an incident in Charlottesville. Concerned by reports of the incident, the Governor ordered the Virginia State Police to conduct a serious and thorough review of the events leading to this personnel action.

The administrative investigation was conducted by the Virginia State Police, an agency independent from Virginia ABC, which submitted its report to Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. After thoroughly reviewing the incident and the report, Virginia ABC concluded that the agents did not violate agency policy and returned these special agents to active duty today.

Because Virginia law prohibits disclosure of personnel files, the administrative review will not be released, and Virginia ABC cannot comment on the specifics of the matter.

At the same time, Virginia ABC is moving forward with directives from the Governor’s Executive Order 40. The agency is organizing meetings to go over Memoranda of Understanding agreements with administrators of law enforcement agencies serving communities with colleges or universities.

Mandated training has been completed ahead of schedule. The Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement worked with the Department of Criminal Justice, splitting training into two sessions lasting two weeks each that were completed in June and July. Training included hands-on and classroom instruction in areas of use of force, cultural diversity, effective interaction with youth and community policing.

Virginia ABC is actively participating in the Enforcement Expert Review Panel. The next panel meeting is scheduled for August 26.

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