Martese Johnson’s case will likely move forward

A photo of Martese Johnson on the night of his bloody arrest went viral. Photo by Bryan Beaubrun A photo of Martese Johnson on the night of his bloody arrest went viral. Photo by Bryan Beaubrun

The UVA graduate who was taken to the ground by ABC agents outside of Trinity Irish Pub in March 2015 appeared in a Roanoke federal court August 26 for a motions hearing in which the agents’ attorneys, once again, asked for the case against them to be thrown out.

“Though he has not yet formally ruled on the defendants’ motion to dismiss Martese’s amended complaint, Judge [Glen] Conrad stated that, at the very least, his claim for excessive force would proceed, and that, therefore, discovery may begin,” says Benjamin Chew, a UVA Law alumni and attorney for Martese Johnson.

Johnson, who was 20 years old when he was turned away from the bar
on the Corner, maintains in his amended suit—accepted by Judge Conrad in May—that he was approached by agent Jared Miller, who grabbed his arm from behind before being joined by agents Thomas Custer and John Cielakie, who then “slammed” Johnson “face first” into the brick walkway outside of Trinity.

A video of blood pouring down Johnson’s face went viral.

Though the judge indicated that the case will likely move forward, he said he may later drop agent Cielakie from the suit because he is believed to have little involvement. Cielakie did, however, cuff the college student’s legs after he was already immobilized, according to Johnson’s suit.

Johnson’s case against the ABC is scheduled for a five-day jury trial in Charlottesville next year.

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