University of Virginia student Martese Johnson (left, foreground) and his lawyer, Daniel Watkins, March 26, 2015, in Charlottesville, Va.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

University of Virginia senior Martese Johnson has filed a federal lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and three of its officers in relation to his bloody arrest that went viral earlier this year, the Washington Post reports

The lawsuit claims that the ABC violated the 21-year-old’s constitutional rights, accusing agents of unlawfully detaining Johnson when he was arrested in the early-morning hours of March 18 following St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 


Officers “brutally assaulted, seized, arrested and jailed Martese without probable cause and in violation of the United States Constitution, federal statutes and the laws of Virginia, believing (falsely and without sufficient information) that Martese had presented a fake identification card to gain entry to a restaurant and bar on University Avenue in the City of Charlottesville, Va.,” the lawsuit reads, according to the Post. The suit contends that the ID was valid. 

Photos and video of Johnson’s arrest, which show the young man with blood all over his face as he screams at police, went viral. Johnson, who was 20 at the time, reportedly tried to enter an Irish pub, but the bouncer wouldn’t let him in. Johnson was leaving when he was approached by ABC officers, who later forced him to his stomach and arrested him, according to the Post. 

Johnson was charged with public intoxication or swearing and obstruction of justice without force, but those charges were dropped by Charlottesville prosecutor Warner Chapman, the Post reports. 

Johnson is seeking $3 million in damages from “physical injuries and severe mental anguish” as a result of the officers’ actions, the Post reports. 


Read more at the Washington Post

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