A state investigation that followed a black University of Virginia student’s bloody arrest in March has concluded that the agents who detained Martese Johnson were not exceptionally aggressive in the incident, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Johnson, now a senior at UVa, suffered a head injury during his arrest that required 15 stitches to close. Charges against him were later dropped, and the incident drew widespread protests because it appeared to be another in a series of violent encounters in which police officers killed unarmed black men.
The incident, which occurred outside a bar in Charlottesville, Va., on St. Patrick’s Day, also drew protests because the officers were not members of a campus or local police department but were agents of the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which exercises police powers as part of its function of regulating the sale and use of alcohol in Virginia. The ABC agents had apparently staked out the bar in search of underage drinkers, and their treatment of Mr. Johnson received wide exposure in a cellphone video of the incident that went viral.
The state investigation, whose results were released on Tuesday, found that the agents had “only used physical force to detain and arrest Johnson” and did not resort to the more-aggressive means they are permitted to use on people resisting arrest, according to the AP.
The report does not assign blame for Mr. Johnson’s injury, saying only that it happened “when the agents and Johnson went to the ground,” according to the AP. The report concludes that the ABC department acted properly in allowing the agents, who had been transferred to desk jobs, to return to their normal duties.
A separate report, also released on Tuesday, says that the ABC should retain its police powers but should make alcohol regulation a higher priority among its duties. The reports call for better training for ABC agents and improved cooperation between the agency and colleges and universities.