UVa. student Martese Johnson to fight social injustice after charges against him set aside

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The charges University of Virginia student Martese Johnson faced in Charlottesville were nolle prosse, or set aside, during a Friday morning court hearing. Johnson faced misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and obstruction of justice. His bloody arrest outside a Charlottesville bar on St. Patrick's Day made national headlines.

The charges were set aside "in the interest of justice and the community to take another course," Charlottesville's Commonwealth's Attorney  Dave Chapman said. He added the community can learn and accomplish more this way.

Outside of court, Johnson said his ordeal has ignited his passion in him to fight for social justice. He said the justice he received Friday should not just happen for UVa. honor students like himself, but for anyone who has been wronged.

READ MORE: Prosecutor asks judge to nolle prosse charges in Martese Johnson case (PDF) 

Chapman's motion filed in court stated the “long term interest of the community” are better served by using the events to educate the public and create a “dialog between ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, and public officials concerning police and citizen relationships in a diverse community.”

A review of the incident by the Virginia State Police was completed and handed over to Chapman's office. Chapman said the evidence from the report offered a “thorough and independent criminal investigation” into the incident that did "not warrant the prosecution of any other individual."

When news broke Thursday, Johnson tweeted that he hoped Friday's proceeding  went well.

Johnson previously said he hoped the process would be resolved quickly.


arrested martese

Martese Johnson

Johnson's Bloody Arrest 

Johnson's arrest by Virginia ABC officers outside Trinity’s Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day garnered national attention, as images of Johnson bleeding from his head spread across the country on social media.

Daniel Watkins, Johnson's  attorney, said his client presented a valid Illinois state identification card issued in 2011, as he attempted entry into the establishment. When the student was quizzed on the ZIP code, Watkins said Johnson 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.

Multiple witnesses and officials 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.

Virginia ABC released a statement after the incident stating uniformed ABC special agents arrested a 20-year-old male early on the morning of March 18.  ABC officers charged Johnson with Public Intoxication and Obstruction of Justice.

“The uniformed ABC Agents observed and approached the individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment,” spokesperson Kathleen Shaw said in a statement. “A determination was made by the agents to further detain the individual based on their observations and further questioning.”

A video posted by the Cavalier Daily shows the arrest of Johnson, and viewers should be warned that the video contains disturbing images and explicit language.

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