Virginia agents who bloodied black student return to duty

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 10, 2015 2:49 PM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - Virginia alcohol control agents involved in the bloody arrest of a black University of Virginia student in March returned to duty on Monday, the agency said.

A review has shown that the agents did not breach policy in their arrest of student Martese Johnson outside a Charlottesville bar, the Alcohol Beverage Control Department said in a statement.

Johnson's March 18 arrest was widely seen in a video posted online. It sparked student protests at the school and fed a debate on U.S. police treatment of minorities.

"Virginia ABC concluded that the agents did not violate agency policy and returned these special agents to active duty today," the agency said on its website.

A gash in Johnson's head required 10 stitches. His defense attorney has said that just before handcuffing him, ABC agents took Johnson to the ground, striking his head on the pavement.

In the video, Johnson yelled repeatedly, "I go to UVa, I go to UVa you ... racists," as he lay outside a Charlottesville tavern.

The department said it would not comment on the specifics of the arrest or release an investigation by the Virginia State Police that was ordered by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe.

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The agents apparently believed Johnson, a member of the university's honor committee, had a fake ID, which proved to be incorrect. At the time, Johnson was 20, under Virginia's legal drinking age of 21.

Johnson was charged with obstruction of justice and public intoxication and swearing. A prosecutor said in June he would not pursue charges against him or the agents.

Johnson could not be reached for comment on Monday.

(Reporting by Gary Robertson; Editing by Ian Simpson and Sandra Maler)