ABC won't say much about internal investigations

ABC won't say much about internal investigations

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Results are still pending in a Virginia State Police investigation into the use of force by Alcohol Beverage Control officers when they arrested a University of Virginia student. Investigations like that one are rare, records show.

State Police have only stepped in one other time. In the last five years, ABC's own internal affairs department has only investigated three use of force complaints. The results of those investigations may never be known.

The arrest of Martese Johnson went viral in March as cell phone video showed ABC officers arresting him outside a Charlottesville bar. Johnson is seen bloodied, screaming obscenities at the officers -- who yelled back at him. He was arrested on charges of intoxication, swearing and obstruction of justice. The video led to protests, an outcry across the nation and to the governor asking State Police to step in and investigate.

The other time in recent history that State Police investigated the actions of ABC officers, UVA student Elizabeth Daly settled with the state of Virginia for more than $200,000 after ABC agents surrounded her car and arrested her for possession of beer, when all she she had really bought was sparkling water. If anything happened to the ABC officers in Daly's arrest, the public has never found out about it. In the last five years, there have been 75 internal affairs investigations of ABC officers -- about 14 per year. Half of those 75 investigations were started because of complaints from citizens. The others were initiated by the agency.

As for what happens during those investigations, the state agency says it doesn't have to explain, saying it's keeping in line with Virginia State Police. On the Virginia State Police website, the agency says the disposition of a complaint is a confidential personnel matter and not released to the public.

But in the last year, NBC12 has received that same information from Chesterfield, Henrico, Richmond and Petersburg police. Those agencies did not reveal personal details, but did disclose if cases were founded or unfounded.

In a statement, the ABC said if an internal affairs investigation is validated, disciplinary action may involve counseling, remedial training, suspension, transfer, demotion or termination.

The State Police review of the Martese Johnson incident could take months. There is no official timetable. Johnson is due back in court in May.

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