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Johnson to plead not guilty, investigation ongoing

State Police receive dozens of calls, emails, conduct interviews

In a hearing set for Thursday, Mar. 26 at 10 a.m. third-year College student Martese Johnson will plea not guilty of two charges — obstruction of justice and public intoxication.

Johnson was arrested around 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 18 by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents near Trinity Irish Pub on the Corner, after being denied entrance into the pub following discrepancies over his identification. During the arrest Johnson sustained a head injury requiring 10 stitches. Student and statewide responses since the event have questioned the use of force in the arrest.

Daniel Watkins — Johnson’s lawyer at Williams Mullen — met with Dean of Students Allen Groves, Marcus Martin, the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, Trinity Irish Pub owner Kevin Badke and Badke’s lawyer, Cheri Lewis today to discuss the incident.

“They all have said the same thing: moments prior to what the now viral video presents, Martese was polite and well-mannered,” said Caitlin Beckner, a spokesperson for Williams Mullen. “Mr. Johnson has a court date on Thursday (March 26) at 10 a.m., at which he will enter a plea of not guilty.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney office has requested a continuance in the case until the end of May so that Virginia State Police may complete its investigation.

“At that time, the prosecutor will determine whether it wishes to proceed with the two charges against Martese,” Beckner said.

The VSP said they have received dozens of emails and phone calls since launching an investigation into Johnson’s arrest.

“Since the investigation was initiated the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office has fielded more than two dozen emails and phone calls concerning the March 18 incident,” a press release stated. “In addition state police agents have conducted numerous interviews, and collected and reviewed video, photographs, and other evidence that have proven critically important to the investigation.”

Following Johnson’s arrest and hospitalization, University President Teresa Sullivan called for a state investigation of the incident. Governor Terry McAuliffe, who also called for an independent investigation into the use of force in this matter, announced Thursday the state of Virginia is proceeding with both an administrative review and a criminal investigation.

According to the VSP press release, the investigation remains ongoing and will take weeks to complete.

“The administrative review is being handled through the Virginia State Police Professional Standards Unit,” the press release read. “The criminal investigation is being done in coordination with the City of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

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