The Virginia State Police have completed their investigation into the very controversial Martese Johnson case today. According to the formal statement made public by Kevin Badke, the owner/manager of the Trinity Irish Pub, Mr. Johnson was refused admission to the venue because he was under age 21 – the Pub has an additional requirement that only those over 21 years of age will be eligible to gain entry after 10:00 pm – and because Mr. Johnson was unable to provide the zip code that matched the address on his Illinois driver’s license, which is a test routinely given to determine whether or not an individual has provided a false identification in order to gain entry if the individual is under age.
Although Mr. Badke’s statement also indicates that Mr. Johnson “grabbed” the ID from his hand, he was otherwise agreeable and did not show signs that he could see of being intoxicated. Once Mr. Johnson had left the entryway to the Pub, he was questioned by ABC agent-officers and that questioning led – somehow – to his having suffered a gash to his forehead which required 10 stitches. It is from the point of his being down on the ground that the incident was captured by an onlooker on video, which was widely distributed don YouTube. One can see that Mr. Johnson is still very agitated and is swearing. Evidently, in the video, he is either unwilling or was unable to allow the agent-officers to take him into custody. What is not clear – thus far – is what may have led to Mr. Johnson’s agitation – if that preceded his being face-down on the ground, or if his agitation was the result of his having sustained the injuries.
It is not clear whether the Report – which contains hundreds of documents from multiple interviews with the ABC agent-officers, with the owner-manager, with others who were eyewitnesses to the event, and with Mr. Johnson himself – will ever be made public. At this point, it has been provided to the Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, Warner D. “Dave” Chapman, who is to supervise the Commonwealth’s prosecution of the matter in the General District Court.
Martese Johnson was arrested at 12:45 am and released without bond by 6:01 am on 18 March. Chloe Heskett, reporting in the Cavalier Daily the same day, writes:
Johnson was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force, and profane swearing or intoxication in public at 4:21 a.m. The arresting officer was Alcohol and Beverage Control special agent J. Miller.
Miller noted on the arrest record that Johnson “was very agitated and belligerent but [has] no previous criminal history.”
Later that morning, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin announced that University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan had made a request of the governor’s office for a formal investigation of the incident. On Wednesday, the 20th of March, Gov. McAuliffe responded to that request, having had concerns himself following reports from the media. He then asked the Secretary of Public Safety to initiate “an independent Virginia State Police investigation into the use of force in this matter,” according to the Governor’s spokesperson Brian Coy, in an official statement.
President Sullivan herself sent an email to the entire University community, at that point, in which she addressed the incident and acknowledged that additional information would be sought:
“Today, as U.Va. students, faculty, and staff who share a set of deeply held values, we stand unified in our commitment to seeking the truth about this incident, and we stand united in our belief that equal treatment and equal justice are among our fundamental rights under the law.”
At the request of Governor Terry McAuliffe, the “administrative review” (which came at the request of both President Sullivan and Gov. McAuliffe himself) is still underway, and is being conducted by the Virginia State Police Professional Standards Unit, and it will determine if the actions of the Virginia ABC agent-officers were in compliance with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agency’s policy during the entire course of the incident involving Martese Johnson. which led to his arrest.
Today’s Report — which was requested by the City of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney — is a “criminal investigation,” which was conducted by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office, coordinating with the City of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, Warner D. “Dave” Chapman.
Martese Johnson retained Richmond attorney Daniel Watkins of the firm Williams Mullen to represent him in this case, which was continued from 26 March, and is now scheduled for a court appearance on 28 May.