By Larry O’Dell
Charges have been dropped against a University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest sparked a public uproar and a state police investigation, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney David Chapman said he made the decision after reviewing results of the investigation into Martese Johnson’s arrest. But he said the findings do not warrant charges against the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers who arrested Johnson.
Chapman said in a written statement that “the interest of justice and the long term interest of the Charlottesville community are best served by using this case as an opportunity to engage ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, and public officials in constructive dialogue concerning police and citizen relationships in a diverse community.”
Johnson’s attorney, Daniel P. Watkins, said in a telephone interview that his client was “overjoyed” when he learned he will not be prosecuted.
“It’s been our position all along that police lacked justification to arrest and detain Martese,” Watkins said. “It’s been stressful facing criminal prosecution. He’s glad to put this behind him.”
The 20-year-old student form Chicago was arrested outside a bar on March 18 and charged with public intoxication or swearing, and obstruction of justice without force. Chapman will ask a Charlottesville General District Court judge to dismiss those charges at a hearing Friday morning.