Martese Johnson appears in courtroom packed with supporters

Posted at 2:17 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-26 14:17:54-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The third-year University of Virginia student who was bloodied during an arrest last week by the state department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents had a hearing this morning in Charlottesville.

The hearing lasted only a matter of moments in what was a packed courthouse.

The turnout was reflective of a community that has maintained support for Martese Johnson. It’s also a community that has seen its share of high-profile incidents, including another one in which a U.Va student was arrested by ABC agents.

Johnson did not speak as he walked into the courtroom, nor while inside, or when leaving the courtroom. Attorney Daniel Watkins asked his client not to speak, and said that cases aren't decided on the street, but rather in a court of law.

“He’s one of my very close friends, to see a friend crying out, bleeding on the ground and not be able to help him – um, I felt helpless, it was a terrible feeling to not be able to do anything to help your friend,” said Vendarryl Jenkins.

“We are all here to support him and whatever he is doing in the future, we are here to support that, too,” said Miles Braxton.

Johnson’s interview with Virginia State Police, as part of an investigation into the matter will be later this afternoon.

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The next court hearing is scheduled for May 28th.Whether or not there is a trial will depend on the current state police investigation.

Johnson is charged with obstruction of justice and drunk in public and/or swearing. The law firm Johnson said that he planned to enter a plea of not guilty.

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.”

“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.

U.Va student Martese Johnson lies on the ground with a bloodied face that occurred during an arrest, his lawyer said.

U.Va student Martese Johnson lies on the ground with a bloodied face that occurred during an arrest, his lawyer said.

“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.

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.