The roommate of Martese Johnson, the black University of Virginia student whose head was bloodied during an arrest near the campus, said he believes the use of force was likely race-related, and that his friend was using his actual ID while trying to enter a bar on the night of the incident.
“There is nothing he could’ve said or done that could provoke an officer of the law to assault him in such a manner,” Joshua Kinlaw told ABC News.
The roommate also said it’s common for the university’s underage students to try to enter bars.
“I am aware that Martese does not own a fake ID,” Kinlaw said. “So the ID that he actually showed to both the bouncer and to the ABC [Alcoholic Beverage Control] officers was his real ID. Now because the age on that ID shows him to be 20 years old, I think that’s when dispute and discrepancies came in,” Kinlaw said.
As for Johnson, he said Thursday he was "shocked that my face was slammed into the brick pavement three blocks from where I attend school," as his attorney vowed to fight the charges. He was arrested early Wednesday morning outside the Charlottesville bar by state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents who are charged with enforcing alcohol laws in Virginia.
"I trust that the scars on my face and head will heal but the trauma from what the ABC officers did will stay with me forever," Johnson, a third-year student, said through his attorney, Daniel Watkins.
Watkins also rebutted reports that Johnson may have shown false identification at the bar.
"At no point during the encounter ... did Martese present a fake ID," Watkins noted.
Johnson did not speak at the news conference, with Watkins reading a statement on his behalf.
"I still believe in our community. I know this community will support me during this time," he said in the statement.
Earlier in the day, students protested in the University of Virginia library to demonstrate Johnson's arrest.
Chants of "black lives matter" and "no justice, no peace" were heard inside the library after protesters moved their outdoor march inside around 12:30 p.m.
Other students started protesting in the school's dining hall around the same time.
Some were chanting "white supremacy, shut it down" while marching through campus, with others opting for a more hopeful tone.
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other," protesters were heard shouting.
Cellphone video shows Johnson lying face down on the sidewalk with two agents detaining him as bystanders yell, “His head is bleeding!” From another angle, Johnson, who is black, is shown with his face bloodied, shouting, “I go to UVA!” and then “You f****** racists!”
He was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, said officials of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which is headed by board members appointed by the governor, who has called for an investigation.
The Virginia State Police have launched an investigation into the Wednesday morning arrest, which will be run in addition to the criminal review that is already underway at the request of the Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney.
"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," Virginia State Police spokesman Col. W. Steven Flaherty said.
University students are scheduled to meet with representatives from the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control and other law enforcement agencies today.