Despite initial reports claiming University of Virginia student Martese Johnson was beaten and arrested by state Alcohol Beverage Control agents over a fake ID, his attorney is saying otherwise.
Daniel P. Watkins confirmed the honor student was charged with two misdemeanors Wednesday, but said the young man was not accused of having a fake ID, according to a statement released by Virginia-based law firm Williams Mullen.
On March 18, 2015, Charlottesville Police charged 20-year old Martese Johnson with two misdemeanors: 1) obstruction of justice without force and 2) profane swearing and/or intoxication in public,” the statement reads. “The charges were filed after a Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) officer and local police confronted Mr. Johnson near “the Corner,” a popular off-campus social hub near the University of Virginia. Contrary to early police reports, Mr. Johnson has not been accused of possessing false identification.
“Just before handcuffing him, police took Martese to the ground, striking his head on the pavement and causing him to bleed profusely from the gash on his head,” Mr. Watkins said. “This morning he received ten stitches at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Fortunately, Martese’s physical wounds are beginning to heal.”
Watkins added that his client is “devastated” by the events that took place that night. Johnson, a third-year student majoring in Italian and Media Studies, made his first public statement following the arrest at a protest that began at UVA’s campus Wednesday night and ended at the police station.
“Regardless of your personal opinions and the way you feel about subjects … please respect everyone here,” he said. “We are one community. We deserve to respect each other, especially in times like this.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an investigation by the Virginia State Police to determine if the alcohol control agents’ use of force was excessive. The agents involved in the arrest have been assigned to administrative duties.
Watkins and his team are “preparing to investigate and defend this matter vigorously.”
“Please keep Martese in your prayers during this difficult time,” the statement read.
To read Watkins’ statement in full, click here.
SOURCE: Williams Mullen | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube