Prosecutors decide against charges for UVa student after violent arrest

Prosecutors decide against charges for UVa student after violent arrest
All charges have been dropped against Martese Johnson, an UVa student whose bloody arrest outside a Charlottesville bar in March sparked a public uproar and a state police investigation. The arresting officers won’t be charged, either.

Virginia prosecutor David Chapman said that he made the decision to drop misdemeanor charges of obstruction of justice and public intoxication after reviewing the results of the police investigation in Johnson’s arrest.

READ MORE: 'Brute handling': Black student's bloody arrest prompts college protest

Photos and video from the incident on March 17 showed Johnson pinned down by state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents, his face bloodied. Johnson sustained a head injury requiring 10 stitches when he was arrested and accused of public intoxication. Johnson claimed that his arrest and treatment by police officers was racially motivated.

The arrest sparked protests the following night throughout the city of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, with 1,000 students rallying against what the Black Student Alliance called the “animalistic, insensitive, and brute handling” of Johnson.

Chapman also said that the findings didn’t warrant criminal charges against the ABC agents who arrested Johnson.

The Commonwealth Attorney said in a statement that the decision was reached “in the interest of justice and the long term interest of the Charlottesville using the case…to engage…in constructive dialogue concerning police and citizen relationships.”

READ MORE: UVA keeps protesting honor student's arrest, legislators call for an end to ABC arrest powers

Last year, the state of Virginia reached a $212,500 settlement with a UVA student who was arrested after her purchase of water was mistaken for beer in 2013. Elizabeth Daly, a 20-year-old, was charged with eluding police and assaulting an officer after her SUV grazed two of the agents. The charges were dropped after the student's arrest caused a public outcry.

After the Johnson incident, state lawmakers were suggesting ABC agents not be allowed to have the same ability to arrest citizens that police forces do.

There is a hearing for Johnson’s case on Friday morning where the judge will decide whether the charges can be dropped.