State Police Investigation Into Martese Johnson Arrest Complete
The information about UVA student Martese Johnson's arrest is now in the hands of Charlottesville's Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman. The information was given to Chapman's office last week. He is currently reviewing the information, and will decide how to release the findings.
Legal analyst Lloyd Snook says processing the findings in that report will take time. "The biggest problem is that it's a very busy office right now. There are murder trials going on right now," he said.
Chapman is in the middle of a murder trial and wasn't readily available for comment. His office has released the following statement: "We have received the investigative material. It's voluminous. We are taking our time to sift through the findings before releasing any results."
On March 18, Johnson was arrested outside Trinity Irish Pub on the UVA Corner. Johnson's arrest has drawn wide attention because images of him with a bloody face spread quickly on social media. The arrest sparked controversy in Charlottesville and made national headlines. UVA students rallied around Johnson immediately after the arrest. Protestors took to the streets of Charlottesville.
Johnson's attorney, Daniel Watkins, says the results of his client's bloody arrest are several hundred pages long. The results detail several hours of interviews, including one with Johnson conducted by Virginia State Police on March 26.
The results also contain reports from the ABC agents involved in the early morning arrest and from University of Virginia and Charlottesville police officers who responded after the fact.
Snook says the prosecutor in the case will be looking for evidence of excessive force. "An officer has a right to a limited degree to put his hands on you to detain you, to get you to stop and talk to them," he said.
According to Watkins, the report says ABC officers were investigating Johnson because he was turned away. They thought he had a fake ID, not because they thought he was drunk. Snook says the prosecution will be looking for evidence of excessive force.
Johnson faces two charges stemming from the incident: obstruction of justice without force and public intoxication. He's due back in Charlottesville General District Court on May 28.
What's unclear right now is: what the full findings detail, how the prosecutor will release the findings to the public and when.
The Virginia State Police have completed its investigation into the March 18, 2015, incident at the Corner. The fruits of that investigation are currently being reviewed by the Commonwealth's Attorney Office in Charlottesville. There are several hundred pages of documents and hours of recorded interviews included. Daniel Watkins expects to be given access to the materials in the next couple of weeks. We have already reviewed the reports from the arresting ABC agents and the local police on the scene and our position remains that the police lacked justification to arrest or brutalize young Martese.