Governor's Office Releases VSP Report on Martese Johnson Arrest

Posted: Updated: Sep 22, 2015 10:22 PM
Martese Johnson Martese Johnson

The administrative review into the controversial arrest of a University of Virginia student has been made public.

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office released the administrative review into the arrest of Martese Johnson released just before 5:30 6:00 p.m. As we first told you last night, the governor changed positions after all those involved in Martese Johnson’s bloody arrest signed off on a release.

Here's what we know about the report: 

The report is 119 pages long. It's the administrative review done by Virginia State Police into the actions of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents who arrested Johnson in March outside Trinity Irish Pub on the university corner. 

Governor McAuliffe called for the review shortly after the arrest. Once the review was complete, it was turned over to the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.

Johnson's legal team, members of the media, and lawmakers had demanded the governor release the review, but the state initially refused.

Thirty-seven pages are a narrative from approximately 50 witnesses who saw or heard ABC agents arrest Martese Johnson.

The report, which is partially redacted to take out witness names, tells us that Johnson's friends described him in various states of intoxication leading up to the incident.

On the forms, two of the agents involved marked the incident as a "physical attack on agent" noting that it was a struggle. Their injuries were documented. One had scuffs on his knees, and the other had minor scratches.The report includes pictures of injuries some of the ABC agents may have sustained during the arrest.

At the time, Johnson required 10 stitches on his forehead.  They did breathalyze Johnson between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.  The blood alcohol reading was .002 but we also found out the machine wasn't calibrated. 

Governor McAuliffe's office also released the following statement: 

“The independent investigators at the Virginia State Police did a thorough and professional job with this review and I thank them for their outstanding work. This was a difficult event that exposed the need for policy changes, many of which we have already made. However, the facts presented in this thorough report support the Virginia ABC’s decision to reinstate these agents. I want to thank the agents for agreeing to waive protections of their personnel information so that this report can be made available to the public. Going forward, my team and I will continue to evaluate the proposals submitted by the expert review panel I convened in the wake of this incident to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep Virginians safe with the utmost professionalism and respect.”  

When asked about the release of the review, Daniel Watkins, Johnson’s attorney said, “We applaud the governor’s decision to release the Virginia State Police administrative report into the arrest of Martese Johnson.  Now, more than ever, transparency is essential when reviewing the propriety of any police-citizen encounter.  When asked about the possibility of a civil suit, Watkins said, “Mr. Johnson is still weighing the propriety of filing a civil suit in this matter but we are also concerned about whether appropriate safeguards are now in place to prevent another unfortunate encounter between ABC agents and citizens. At the very least, it's a step in the right direction to try to ensure that this doesn't happen to anyone else again."

The following statement was issued with the release of the Virginia State Police Administrative Review: 

"Citing an interest in transparency and providing a full account of the circumstances in the case, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) special agents involved in the March 18 arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson have waived any protections for their personnel files regarding this matter and have requested that the Virginia State Police (VSP) administrative review of the incident be released to the public.

Based on the exceptional nature of the release of this material, the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General has examined the report and redacted medical information in accordance with state and federal law. Witness names and information have also been redacted to protect their identities and avoid inhibiting witness participation in future cases of this nature. The willingness of numerous witnesses to discuss the events and provide valuable information was essential to preparing a complete report on this incident. 

(The specific sections concerning the agents’ waiver are: § 2.2-3705.1(1) under FOIA which discusses personnel records; DHRM Policy 6.05 enacted pursuant to Code §2.2-1201(A)(13) which prohibits agencies from releasing personnel info without consent of the employee; and § 32.1-127.1:03(A)(3) which concerns health records privacy and prohibiting its unauthorized release.)" 

The full VSP administrative review - in its redacted form  - can be read below. Editors note: the contents of the report contain vulgar language: 

 https://www.abc.virginia.gov/library/about/pdfs/vsp-admin-report-martese-johnson-arrest.pdf?la=en (format: 119 page .pdf)

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