Supporters fill courtroom for UVA student Martese Johnson’s hearing Thursday

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The University of Virginia student at the center of a controversial arrest by ABC agents appeared in court Thursday morning.

Martese Johnson, who garnered national attention after a picture and video of him being held down by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents with his face bloodied went viral on social media, faces two misdemeanors in a case that has sparked protests and a state police investigation.

In the video, Johnson can be heard cursing at the cops and calling them racist.

Johnson was expected to plead not guilty during Thursday’s hearing, but instead, prosecutors asked that the case be continued as they await the results of the Virginia State Police’s investigation into Johnson’s arrest. The presiding judge set Johnson’s next court date for May 28 at 10:30 a.m.

During Thursday’s hearing, friends, classmates and supporters of Johnson filled the standing room only courtroom dressed in black.

“For us it was very important that we came together as a community and that we made sure we provided a support system for Martese so that when he walked in it wasn’t just strangers surrounding him, but those nearest and dearest to him,” said one of Johnson’s friends, Joy Omenyi.

Added a UVA faculty member, Njelle Hamilton, “These are my students, right? I just want to show solidarity that we stand with our students and we care about what happens to them both on and off grounds.”

Johnson is charged with obstruction of justice without force and public intoxication or swearing, misdemeanors that stemmed from the student’s violent arrest by ABC agents earlier this month.

Today, instead of answering to those charges, the prosecutor continued the case until VSP concludes their investigation into the violent arrest.

“We have an interview with a VSP officer this afternoon and our position remains the same,” said Johnson’s lawyer, Daniel Watkins. “We don’t hold court on the streets, we hold court in courthouses. There are very well defined legal processes and that’s what we’re taking part in now.”

Stay with 8News for developments on this story. 

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