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Martese Johnson, U.Va student arrested by ABC agents, to plead not guilty

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Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-23 18:11:47-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia student arrested by Alcohol and Beverage Control agents will be in court Thursday, March 26. The law firm representing third-year student U.Va student Martese Johnson said that he planned to enter a plea of not guilty. Johnson is charged with obstruction of justice and drunk in public and/or swearing.

A video captured the moments after Johnson was arrested by three ABC agents. He can be seen with a bloodied face, wounds that required 10 stitches, and he can be heard swearing at the officers and calling them racists.

What happened in the moments between his denial into the Trinity Irish Pub and his arrest has not been shown on video, or explained yet by officers. The Virginia State Police have opened an investigation at the request of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was approached by U.Va President Teresa Sullivan.

Vice-President Dr. Marcus Martin, in an interview with Anderson Cooper, questioned tactics used by the uniformed Special Agents.

Dr. Martin said Johnson “was apparently not intoxicated.”

“I don’t have the results of it,” Martin said. “The breathalyzer test was done at the police station and it did not indicate that he was intoxicated.”

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“The bystanders and credible witnesses that I spoke with indicated that he did not resist arrest,” Martin continued. “However, he was charged to my knowledge, on obstructing justice as well as being drunk in public, neither of which seems to have occurred.”

So far, on record, Johnson’s lawyer Daniel Watkins has said the arrest was made after midnight the night of St. Patrick’s Day. Johnson was standing on the sidewalk near Trinity Irish pub when an employee approached him and asked him for identification, said Watkins.

“At no time throughout the encounter did Martese present, as has been reported by some in the media, a fake ID,” said Watkins. “Nevertheless, Virginia ABC officers who were present on the scene questioned my client about being in possession of false identification.”

Johnson presented a valid Illinois state identification card issued in 2011, explained Watkins. When Martese was quizzed on the ZIP code he recited the current ZIP code at his mother’s Chicago city address, which is different from the Chicago city ZIP code on the identification card that was printed almost four years ago.

Kevin Badke, the owner of the Trinity Irish Pub said that moments prior to what the now viral video presents, Johnson was polite and well-mannered.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney office has asked to continue the case until the last week of May so the Virginia State Police can complete its investigation.

At that time, the prosecutor will determine whether it wishes to proceed with the two charges against Martese.

An Indiegogo account was started over the weekend by the group UVA Alumni for Change in conjunction with Mr. Johnson’s fraternity brothers, to offset legal and medical costs.