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Charges Against UVA Student Bloodied During Arrest Dropped

The violent arrest of Martese Johnson outside a bar in March sparked protests and a state police investigation.
/ Source: Associated Press

A prosecutor is dropping charges against a University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest sparked a public uproar and a state police investigation.

Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney David Chapman said Thursday that he made the decision after reviewing results of a state police 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.

Martese Johnson, center, and his lawyer, Daniel Watkins, right, walk to the Charlottesville District Court on March 26. Video of his bloody arrest went viral.Zach Gibson / Getty Images

The 20-year-old from Chicago was arrested outside a bar on March 18 and charged with public intoxication or swearing and obstruction of justice without force.

"Upon review of the evidence, the applicable principles of law and the best interest of the community, the Commonwealth reached a conclusion that the interest of justice is not served by further prosecution of the defendant in relation to the events of March 18," Chapman wrote in a court filing.

The arrest gained widespread attention, with photos and videos on social media showing Johnson pinned to the ground, his face bloodied. Johnson, who is black, called the officers racist. Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the state police investigation.

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."