Prosecutor asks for criminal investigation of ABC officers in Martese Johnson arrest

Virginia State Police will investigate the ABC's arrest of Martese Johnson. Photo courtesy Martese Johnson Virginia State Police will investigate the ABC’s arrest of Martese Johnson. Photo courtesy Martese Johnson

Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman has requested the Virginia State Police to launch a criminal investigation into ABC agents’ arrest of UVA student Martese Johnson early March 18.

Governor Terry McAuliffe had already asked state police to investigate the arrest of the 20-year-old student who, in a photo that went viral, was photographed handcuffed on the sidewalk with blood streaming down his face. The VSP’s Professional Standards Unit will conduct an administrative review to determine if the actions of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents during the course of the arrest of Johnson were consistent and in compliance with their agency’s policy, according to a release.

The criminal investigation concentrates on the circumstances of the arrest, said Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller. Chapman, who declined to prosecute the ABC’s 2013 charges against sparkling water-carrying UVA student Elizabeth Daly, did not immediately return a phone call.

Colonel Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent, warned that both the criminal and administrative investigations will take time. “We owe it to both Mr. Johnson and the Virginia ABC to be painstakingly thorough in determining the facts of the situation through interviews, evidence collection and analysis, and investigative procedure,” he said in the release. “We appreciate the public’s patience as we move through the investigative process in the coming weeks.”

The ABC has not responded to requests for the identity of the three agents who arrested Johnson. Special Agent J. Miller signed the arrest warrant.

Virginia State Police asks anyone with information about the 12:45am arrest March 18 outside Trinity Irish Pub on the Corner to contact them at or call 1-877-482-8477.