Bar Co-owner Says Martese Johnson Was 'Cordial' the Night of His Arrest

He had just turned student away from Irish pub before his violent arrest..

March 22, 2015, 10:18 AM

— -- The co-owner of the Charlottesville bar that Martese Johnson tried to enter before his bloody arrest said that the University of Virginia student was "cordial and respectful" and did not appear to be drunk.

Johnson, 20, was bloodied during an arrest near the campus early Wednesday morning, sparking protests on the campus over alleged police brutality as well as a state investigation of the incident. He was arrested outside a Charlottesville bar by state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents who are charged with enforcing alcohol laws in Virginia.

Kevin Badke, the co-owner of Trinity Irish Pub, said in a statement last night that Johnson was refused entry to the pub moments before he was arrested and the bar does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Johnson, 20, was rejected because he provided the wrong zip code when presenting his ID, Badke said.

“Mr. Johnson, probably realizing the reason for the error, stated that he had moved. At this point, Mr. Badke and Mr. Johnson had a brief conversation because Mr. Badke is from the south side of Chicago, where Mr. Johnson indicated he was from. In Mr. Badke’s opinion, Mr. Johnson did not appear to be intoxicated in the least. Despite the conversation, which was cordial and respectful, Mr. Badke reiterated that he could not permit him to enter," according to Trinity’s statement.

In Virginia, there is no legal requirement that customers entering a restaurant where alcohol is served must be over the age of 21. So Johnson had every right to attempt to enter Trinity so long as he was using his lawful identification. Trinity’s decision to enact a 21 and over policy after 10 p.m., for busy evenings, does not make Johnson’s attempt to enter illegal.

“He handed Mr. Johnson his ID back and Mr. Johnson began walking in a north westerly direction up University Avenue. A few moments later, Mr. Badke heard a commotion, turned, and saw Mr. Johnson on the ground about 30 feet further up on University Avenue with ABC agents detaining him,” the statement continued.

In a press conference Thursday, Johnson said through his attorney Daniel Watkins in a statement that he was "shocked that my face was slammed into the brick pavement three blocks from where I attend school."

Alcoholic Beverage Control said Johnson was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice.

The arrest is currently under investigation by the Virginia State Police.

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