Agents Cleared in Martese Johnson Incident
Three Virginia liquor agents involved in a bloody arrest that prompted allegations of racial profiling and injustice followed procedures and did nothing wrong, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Department said Monday.
University of Virginia student Martese Johnson’s arrest caused national uproar after photos and video of the 20-year-old honors student went viral.
The images showed Johnson pinned to the sidewalk by an officer and bleeding from his head. Johnson, who is Black, can be heard on the video calling the officers racist.
A report by the Virginia State Police was completed about two weeks ago.
“After thoroughly reviewing the incident and the report, Virginia ABC concluded that the agents did not violate agency policy and returned these special agents to active duty today,” the ABC said in a news release Monday.
The agents were assigned to desk duty soon after the March 2015 arrest that took place outside a pub across the street from campus.
A separate criminal investigation found no evidence of malice or racism by the officers, ABC News reports. They were not charged in connection to the incident.
Johnson faced charges of resisting arrest and public swearing or intoxication. All of the charges against the college student have been dropped.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered retraining for the agency’s approximately 130 law enforcement officers. He also appointed a panel to examine ABC’s law enforcement practices and to make recommendations by Nov. 1.
Johnson’s incident came just two years after another University of Virginia student was arrested outside of a supermarket. ABC agents mistook a carton of sparkling water for beer. The agents swarmed Elizabeth Daly’s vehicle. One pulled a gun and another attempted to break her windshield with a flashlight. Daly settled a lawsuit for $212,500.
Watkins has declined to say whether Johnson will also file a lawsuit.