UVA Student Arrest Sparks Controversy
Virginia's Alcoholic Beverage Control is coming under fire from Governor McAuliffe, among others, for an arrest that happened early Wednesday morning on the University of Virginia corner.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia's Alcoholic Beverage Control is coming under fire from Governor McAuliffe, among others, for the arrest of a University of Virginia student early Wednesday morning on the UVA corner.
The incident happened after midnight Wednesday in front of Trinity Irish Pub on University Avenue. A picture taken from the crowd shows a man on the ground with a bloodied face. An email that was signed "Concerned Black Students" says Johnson wasn't allowed into the bar and found himself suddenly flung to the ground and arrested.
A statement from ABC says agents were patrolling University Avenue early Wednesday morning when they saw a man stopped at the door of Trinity Irish Pub and not let in. ABC says agents approached 20-year-old Martese Johnson and wanted to detain him for questioning after being denied entry to the bar. ABC says Johnson was injured during the arrest. They say he was taken to a hospital for treatment.
According to court documents, UVA third-year student Martese Johnson was arrested by Alcohol and Beverage Control special agent J. Miller on charges of obstructing justice and profane swearing or intoxication in public. On the arrest record, Miller wrote “Def. was very agitated and belligerent but no previous criminal history.” Johnson was released from jail Wednesday morning on a $1,500 bond and will have a court hearing March 26.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has been in touch with UVA President Teresa Sullivan on the case. The governor is calling on Virginia State Police to do an independent investigation into the use of force in the incident. (See statement below).
University of Virginia President Sullivan issued a statement (see below) Wednesday afternoon, in it she calls for witnesses to come forward. "As the investigation unfolds, eyewitnesses will play an essential role in shedding light on the details of this incident. I urge students and other members of our community who witnessed the incident or have other direct knowledge of it to come forward. Please contact the Virginia State Police at 804-674-2000 immediately," she wrote.
Attorney General Mark Herring issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying "In these situations it's critical that we get all of the facts about exactly what happened as quickly as possible. I commend Governor McAuliffe for his swift decision to ask the Virginia State Police to investigate this situation."
The ABC special agents involved in Johnson's arrest have been placed on administrative duty while this case is investigated.
This is not the first time the ABC has come under fire for its action involving a UVA student. The ABC instituted policy changes following an undercover sting outside the Harris Teeter on Barracks Road in Charlottesville in 2013. Undercover agents arrested UVA student Elizabeth Daly when they mistook sparkling water for beer. The charges were later dropped and the student's record expunged. Click here for full coverage of the Daly case.