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'Shocked': Arrested UVA Student Martese Johnson Says Trauma Will Stay With Him

A University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest sparked protests says he will fight drunk and disorderly charges.
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A University of Virginia student whose videotaped arrest — as blood streamed down his face — sparked protests and a criminal investigation said the trauma from the event will haunt him forever.

Martese Johnson, a third-year student at the university, appeared at a press conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, Thursday afternoon, but did not speak — instead issuing a statement through his attorney.

"I was shocked that my face was slammed into the pavement across the road from my school," he said in the statement.

Images of a bloodied and bruised Martese Johnson, 20, went viral online after his arrest at 12:45 a.m. outside of a popular off-campus bar. Officers with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had detained him after he was refused entry into a University Avenue bar, officials said.

He was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, and a court date was set for March 26. In a cell phone video, Johnson can be heard saying he's a student at UVA and calling the officers racist.

"We intend to fight the criminal charges against him with the utmost vigor," Attorney Daniel Watkins said at the press conference.

Johnson did not speak directly at the press conference, but issued a statement read by his attorney, saying the arrest was traumatic.

"I trust the scars on my face and head will one day heal, but the trauma of what those officers did will stay with me forever," Johnson said in his statement.

Hundreds of students marched at the UVA campus Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, demanding justice for Johnson and bearing signs saying "Black Lives Matter."

UVA has been in the national spotlight in recent months with the abduction and murder of student Hannah Graham and a rape accusation scandal involving a fraternity. School President Teresa Sullivan said in a statement that the investigation must take its course, although "members of our community should feel safe from the threat of bodily harm and other forms of violence."


— Daniella Silva and Erik Ortiz