Supporters pack courtroom for Martese Johnson's hearing - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side


Supporters pack courtroom for Martese Johnson's hearing


The case against a UVA student at the center of a controversial arrest is on hold as a state investigation into what happened moves forward.

Thursday, 20 year old Martese Johnson made his first appearance before a judge since his arrest. But he did not enter a plea as expected.

The hearing lasted all of 5 minutes. Johnson did not make a plea yet though his attorneys say when it's time, he plans to plead not guilty to public intoxication and/or swearing and obstruction of justice.

With his attorney by his side, 20 year old Martese Johnson enters court to find a standing room only crowd of supporters.

"He's one of my very close friends,” said Vendarryl Jenkins.

He felt he had to be here, since he was also there with Johnson the night he was arrested.

"To see a friend crying out and waiting on the ground and not being able to help him, I felt helpless,” Jenkins said.

But Thursday, a host of students and community members vowed to help any way they can.

"When he walked in, it wasn't just strangers surrounding him but people who were nearest and dearest to him,” said Joy Omenyi with the Black Student Alliance.

A judge agreed to continue Johnson's case for two months as state officers have launched an investigation into whether ABC agents did anything wrong the night of his bloody arrest. That investigation sparked at the request of Governor Terry McAuliffe.

"It is our goal to continue to fight for Martese and conduct our own independent investigation as well,” said Johnson's attorney Daniel Watkins.

Right after the hearing, Johnson shared his side of the story with state police in private. It comes a day after the Governor ordered extra training for all ABC agents.

"It's just a plan and we don't know what the results of those training will be so we hope that were able to evaluate the effects of those trainings and if there are further implementations that need to happen hopefully those steps will be taken,” Jenkins said.

There will be a student organized discussion to unite the faith community. It will take place Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville from 5 until 6:30 pm. Organizers say it will offer the first steps in what they hope will be a sustained dialogue throughout this entire process.

Management of the bar where Johnson was arrested outside of released a statement saying the student did not appear to be intoxicated and was polite after being turned away from the establishment.

The case was continued until May 28 at 10:30 a.m. at which point the prosecution will decide whether they want to move forward with the charges or drop them. 

Click here for full #MarteseJohnson coverage: 

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has ordered an overhaul of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control department in the wake of the controversial arrest. 

Last week, Charlottesville Police sat down with students at a forum following Johnson's arrest. Students marched out of that meeting. 

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