Martese Johnson, the University of Virginia student who was brutally arrested earlier this year, has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the state liquor agents responsible for the incident, The Guardian reports.
Johnson filed the complaint on Tuesday, claiming the Alcohol Beverage Control state agency used excessive force and unlawful detention during their encounter in March. Johnson’s story gained national attention after video of the then-20-year-old bloodied after being tackled by an officer went viral.
Johnson was denied entry into a UVA bar during St. Patrick’s Day over a suspicious fake identification card. Further investigation revealed the ID was real.
After walking away from the bar, Johnson was detained by agents Jared Miller, Thomas Custer, and John Cielakie. He was then thrown on the ground and shackled by his ankles before being taken into police custody.
Johnson’s arrest prompted protests, online outrage, and further training for ABC agents. An investigation was also launched to look into ABC’s practices. Johnson previously told The Guardian after his charges were eventually dropped that he was uncomfortable the agents didn’t receive any punishment for their role in the incident.
The Guardian reports:
“I’m uncomfortable with the idea of these officers patrolling the area where I will have to live for another year. And if a person is slammed into the ground and has to get stitches – that an innocent person is treated in this way – there should be some repercussions or some punishment and changes to ensure it does not happen in the future,” he said.
The Virginia department cleared the agents of any wrongdoing in August.
Johnson is now wrapping up his last year at UVA and has spoken out against police tactics. In a recent editorial for Vanity Fair, the honor student addressed his experience and how his view of freedom was skewed the night of the bloody encounter.
Johnson wrote for Vanity Fair:
“These officers would probably never admit to being racist, and it is because they truly believe that they are not,” he writes. “Still, their inclination to police a black male more violently than a white male conveys a different message. The officers did not see a University of Virginia student out with his peers; they saw a young black male with a high-top fade, a gold chain, some tennis shoes, and a hoodie. In their minds, I could not possibly have been a member of the “community” that they had sworn to protect.”
ABC spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw had no comment due to the pending litigation.