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Prosecution announces decision to drop charges against Martese Johnson

Court to rule on request at Friday morning hearing

<p>Martese Johnson appeared for his initial hearing at the Charlottesville General District Court on March 26, charged with obstruction of justice and public intoxication.</p>

Martese Johnson appeared for his initial hearing at the Charlottesville General District Court on March 26, charged with obstruction of justice and public intoxication.

The Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney announced their decision not to pursue misdemeanor charges against Martese Johnson Thursday afternoon. The request for an order to drop the charges will be heard at a hearing Friday morning at the Charlottesville General District Court.

The charges against Johnson occurred during the early hours of March 18 on the Corner outside of Trinity Irish Pub, after Johnson was arrested by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control. The Court must approve the prosecution’s request before the charges may be dropped.

City Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman cited the Virginia State Police investigation into the incident, which occurred after national outcry over the manner of the arrest, as reason for their decision to drop charges.

“In reaching this decision the Commonwealth also found that the evidence did not warrant criminal charges against law enforcement officers who were involved in the events of March 18th,” Chapman said in a press release.

Daniel Watkins, Johnson’s lawyer, said he was informed Thursday morning of the decision to not pursue charges.

“It has been our position all along that the Virginia ABC officers were not justified in their treatment of Mr. Johnson,” Watkins said in a statement. “When I notified him, he was truly ecstatic. His future remains bright and he looks forward to moving on with his life now that this matter has been resolved."

Chapman said he hopes the case will be “an opportunity to engage ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, and public officials in constructive dialogue concerning police and citizen relationships in a diverse community.”

The Commonwealth will hold a public presentation on the evidence in the case as well as the conclusions reached next Wednesday at 1p.m in City Council Chambers.

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