The bloody beating of a Black, unarmed college honors student is the latest police brutality incident caught on camera that’s fueling outrage across the nation.
The victim is 20-year-old Martese Johnson at the University of Virginia (UVA). Reports indicate he was arrested by Alcohol Beverage Control Agent early Wednesday morning when he was denied entry into a bar over questions about his ID.
Johnson was shown on cellphone video faced down and bleeding with someone shouting, “His head is bleeding.” Johnson’s head was slammed on the pavement and a photo that has gone viral shows his bloody face. He was treated at a local hospital for his injuries and later released.
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AND GRAPHIC VIOLENCE
The college student was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, according to law enforcement officials. Johnson’s attorney, Daniel Watkins, explained further details in a statement and believes Johnson was abused by agents because he was Black adn that he was not drunk.
“Just before handcuffing him, police took Martese to the ground, striking his head on the pavement and causing him to bleed profusely from the gash on his head,” Watkins said. “This morning he received ten stitches at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Fortunately, Martese’s physical wounds are beginning to heal.”
Watkins added that Martese is an exceptional student with no criminal record serving as Vice Chair for Community Relations of the Honor Committee, Vice Polemarch of the Eta Sigma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and a Chair of the Leadership Development Committee of the Black Student Alliance.
Students at UVA have mobilized holding a rally voicing the outrage over the incident. Johnson spoke at the gathering that brought out thousands of students.
“I want the remainder of students out there to be able to share their opinions and share their feelings. I beg for you guys, regardless of your personal opinions and the way you feel about subjects, to please respect everyone here,” he said. “We are all part of one community and we deserve to respect each other, especially in times like this. Thank you.”
University President Teresa Sullivan called the incident “appalling” when speaking to reporters.
“I thought about how I would feel if I were his mother,” she reportedly said.
A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that an independent investigation is being initiated of the Virginia State Police on what happened.