On early Wednesday morning, UVA student Martese Johnson found himself face down on the pavement with a gash on his forehead and cops with their knees on his back, just steps away from campus. The racially charged incident sparked rallies on campus and outrage across the nation, and Johnson has finally release his side of the story.
“I’m shocked that my face was slammed into the brick pavement just across the street from where I attend school,” Johnson said in a prepared statement read by his lawyer, Daniel Watkins. “Three officers then pinned me to the ground, pressing their knees in my back while blood flowed freely from the gash to my head. As the officers held me down, one thought raced through my mind, ‘How could this happen?'”
Johnson was attempting to enterTrinity Irish Pub on the Corner (a popular strip at UVA) when he was removed from the line due to a discrepancy with his ID. It was a valid, Chicago issued ID, but Johnson recited a different zip code (his mother’s) than what was on the card, which led to the bouncer asking him off the line.
That’s when he was approached by Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) officers stepped in and was accused of having false identification.
Johnson required 10 stitches to close the wound on his forehead. He was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and profane swearing/public intoxication but had no prior arrest history.
“My head lay bloody but unbowed. I still believe in our community. I know this community will support me during this time,” reads Johnson’s statement. “I trust the scars on my face and head will one day heal. But the trauma from what the ABC officers did yesterday will stay with me forever. I believe we as a community are better than this. We cannot allow the actions of a few officers to ruin the community of trust we have worked so hard to build.”
Due to the unwanted attention this brings on UVA you can bet the charges against Johnson will eventually be dropped. But what of the apparent overzealousness of the arresting officers? Will be they punished?
Watch Johnson’s press conference below.
Photo: WGN screen cap