Bar Owner Says Martese Johnson Was ‘Cordial and Respectful’ Prior to Bloody Arrest, Further Fueling the Public’s Demand for Answers
University of Virginia students, faculty and parents are still searching for answers as to why honors student Martese Johnson was violently arrested outside a local bar when even the bar’s owner insists that Johnson was “polite and cordial” after being denied entry.
Bloody images of the third-year University of Virginia honors student have continued circulating on the web as the rift between law enforcement and the communities they serve continues to grow.
Johnson was denied access to a bar near the university’s campus called the Trinity Irish Pub when the 20-year-old student recited the wrong zip code on the ID.
Previous reports said a bouncer turned the underage student away, but a statement from the bar revealed that the “bouncer” was actually one of the bar’s owners.
The statement said that co-owner Kevin Badke was at the door assisting with checking IDs because St. Patrick’s Day celebrations tend to attract many underage drinkers.
When he told Johnson that he wouldn’t be allowed in the bar, Badke said Johnson was “disappointed” but that was it.
“He was just disappointed he didn’t get in,” Badke told Newsplex. “He was just acting like a normal college kid.”
He added that he didn’t believe Johnson was intoxicated at all.
A Breathalyzer test later confirmed that Johnson, who also serves as the leadership development chairman for the university’s Black Student Alliance, was not intoxicated.
“It was very cordial,” he added. “I actually asked him what high school he went to.”
The two Chicago natives had a brief conversation before Johnson walked away and Badke continued carding other patrons.
Shortly afterwards, Badke heard a commotion and turned to see Johnson on the ground.
Much like the rest of the community, Badke was confused about how the cordial encounter suddenly resulted in the young man being slammed to the ground by law enforcement.
Johnson was also charged with obstruction of justice without force and public intoxication or swearing, charges that the student’s legal team is vowing to fight against.
In the midst of rallies, protests and social media movements, a forum was held for students and other members of the community who are still seeking answers from law enforcement.
One Charlottesville resident, Williams Rossberg, was clearly shaken by the incident as he discussed just how tragic the entire situation could have been.
“I mean the thing on the corner with the young man getting, you know—I mean they thew, they could have killed him,” he said as he struggled to find the words when talking to a group of reporters.
He even said that the brutality has been extended to protesters.
“My oldest daughter was there and saw that girl get dragged away by her neck,” he said as he recalled an incident where officers reportedly put one of the protesters in a chokehold.
Images of the incident have hit the web, showing an officer with his arm wrapped around a young girl’s neck as she stood in solidarity with Johnson and the rest of the Black community that has fallen victim to police brutality.
He said the incident “freaked” many of the students out but it didn’t deter them from continuing their demonstrations.
A group of students walked out of the forum chanting “Black lives matter” as the entire community continues its push for answers.
The ABC officer who arrested Johnson has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation that was called for by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.