Charlottesville Not Moving Forward with Charges in Johnson Case
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - UPDATE: Friday morning the judge accepted the motion to drop the charges in the Martese Johnson case.
ORIGINAL: Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman is requesting to not prosecute Martese Johnson, the University of Virginia student who was arrested by agents with the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) back in March.
Chapman issued a press release shortly after 5:00 p.m. Thursday saying that his office will not seek prosecution in the Johnson case. However, it won't be official until Johnson, his attorneys and Chapman head to court Friday morning.
Johnson had been charged following a bloody arrest by ABC agents on the Corner area of the university.
The arrest sparked protests throughout the city of Charlottesville and UVA.
The request from Chapman says the commonwealth has reviewed the investigation by Virginia State Police of the arrest. Based on that report, prosecutors want to drop the obstruction of justice and public intoxication charges.
Additionally, the commonwealth has no intention to press criminal charges against the ABC agents involved in Johnson's arrest.
The commonwealth's attorney's office plans to publicly announce some of the findings of that VSP investigation and explain the rationale behind their decisions at a hearing set for next Wednesday inside City Council chambers in Charlottesville.
Johnson has a hearing Friday morning in Charlottesville General District Court, where we will learn if the judge will allow the charges to be dropped.
Press release from Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - The Office of Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Charlottesville has filed in the Charlottesville General District Court a request for the entry of an order of nolle prosequi of misdemeanor charges pending against Martese Johnson. The charges against Mr. Johnson derive from events of March 18, 2015 at The Corner in Charlottesville. An order of nolle prosequi constitutes a voluntary termination of a pending prosecution that is subject to the court's approval for good cause shown.
Upon review of the evidence resulting from a thorough and independent criminal investigation conducted by the Virginia State Police, the Commonwealth reached a conclusion that the interest of justice and the long term interest of the Charlottesville community are best served by using this case as an opportunity to engage ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, and public officials in constructive dialogue concerning police and citizen relationships in a diverse community. In reaching this decision the Commonwealth also found that the evidence did not warrant criminal charges against law enforcement officers who were involved in the events of March 18th.
To begin the dialogue the Commonwealth will make a public presentation concerning the evidence in this case and the conclusions that have been reached at 1pm on Wednesday, June 17th in the City Council Chambers in Charlottesville City Hall. In the weeks that follow we expect to participate in similar sessions for interested civic and community groups, to ensure that the events underlying this case result in a constructive community dialogue on this vitally important topic.
Commonwealth Attorney, City of Charlottesville