UVa student bloodied in arrest files $3M suit against ABC and agents

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 CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - - Martese Johnson, the University of Virginia student at the center of a controversial arrest, has filed a 3-million dollar civil suit against the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

Johnson was bloodied outside a Charlottesville bar on March 18, when ABC agents arrested him for allegedly having a fake ID.

The charges against Johnson were later dropped and an investigation found the agents did not violate agency policy.

Johnson’s lawsuit claims his civil rights were abused, and he labeled the ABC arrest as an assault and battery. The suit is filed against the ABC, its director Shawn Walker, and the three officers.

Martese Johnson was bloodied in his arrest on March 18.

Martese Johnson was bloodied in his arrest on March 18.

Another UVa. student, Elizabeth Daly, successfully sued the ABC after she was arrested with a 12-pack of La Croix water. She accepted a settlement of $212, 500, though the original suit sought $40 million.

After the incident with Johnson, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an Executive Order to improve law enforcement in the Virginia ABC.

“Recent events involving special agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) in Charlottesville have underscored longstanding concerns about the agency’s Bureau of Law Enforcement,” McAuliffe said, “and exposed the need for more extensive training and oversight.”

On Sept. 29, Attorney General Mark Herring announced an initiative to provide current and few law enforcement officers with opportunities for “contemporary, evidence-based training on topics including impartial policing, bias awareness, situational decision making, de-escalation, and use of force.”

Williams Mullen lawyers Daniel Watkins, Charles E. James, and John Davis will continue to represent Martese and will serve jointly as co-counsel with Washington, D.C., attorneys Benjamin Chew, Joshua Drian, and Diana Eisner of the Los Angeles-based law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.


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