NewsLocal News


UVA student believes ‘justice will be served’ after his bloody arrest sparked protests

Posted at 2:50 PM, May 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-28 14:50:03-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest outside a Charlottesville bar in March made national headlines appeared in court Thursday. The judge set a September 30 trial date for Martese Johnson. Johnson is charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, both misdemeanor charges.

"I hope in the near future this process will end," Johnson said after the hearing. "It's endured a bit longer than we all expected, but I believe that justice will be served at the end of the day."

Johnson's attorney said the Commonwealth could drop charges against the student at a June 12 hearing.

"Justice too long delayed is justice denied," attorney Daniel Watkins said. "That's why we have petitioned the court to dismiss the charges against him."

Watkins said he had not yet seen the evidence Virginia State Police collected in this case which sparked a state-wide discussion on whether Virginia ABC agents should have the power to arrest citizens.

Watkins earlier explained Johnson presented a valid Illinois state identification card issued in 2011, as he attempted entry into a Charlottesville bar on St. Patrick's Day. When Johnson was quizzed on the ZIP code, Watkins said Johnson recited the current ZIP code at his mother’s Chicago address, which was different from the Chicago ZIP code on the identification card.

Multiple witnesses and officials have said that Johnson was not intoxicated that night.

Watkins said in court papers his client was pushed to the ground after pulling his elbow from the grasp of one of the ABC agents — who tried stopping Johnson from walking away while he was being questioned. WTVR CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone said Johnson had the constitutional right to do so, if ABC agents did not have reasonable suspicion a crime was committed.

A review of the incident by the Virginia State Police was completed and handed over to the Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office in Charlottesville. Their office is currently reviewing the case, and deciding whether to proceed with the charges.

Johnson will intern on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. this summer.