All members of the state agency whose officers in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week left third-year University of Virginia student Martese Johnson bloodied during an arrest will be retrained. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Wednesday requiring that the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control law enforcement agents receive lessons on the use of force, diversity, interaction with youth and community policing, according to the Associated Press.
The agency, nicknamed the ABC, came under fire last week after arresting 20-year-old Johnson outside a bar near campus. Johnson was denied entry to the bar because he gave a zip code not matching his ID, USA Today reported. The honors student was not drunk. As he walked away from the bar, Johnson was confronted by three uniformed agents who eventually took him down to the ground before arresting him.
Pictures and video of Johnson's bloody face quickly went viral on the Internet, prompting some to complain about the agents' brutality and others to question their purpose. The ABC aims to ensure that adults of legal age can consume alcohol safely, according to its website. Its agents are sworn and certified police officers.
On Monday, the Washington Post reported seven members of the state's House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran saying they had "serious concerns" about the way Johnson's arrest was handled. They asked Moran to examine "the appropriate role of ABC investigators and officers in our communities, and whether there may be less costly, less dangerous ways to address the issue of underage drinking on our college campuses" -- "methods that don’t put officers and students at risk of violent physical confrontations."
They referenced the previous case of Elizabeth Daly, a 20-year-old UVa. student arrested by ABC agents two years ago. Undercover officers thought she bought a carton of beer, but they found out later it was sparkling water.
Under McAuliffe's order, all ABC agents must be retrained by Sept. 1. The governor also ordered Moran to create a panel to review the agency's mission, structure and policies, according to BuzzFeed.
"The measures the governor has taken in the executive order today illustrate that we all share a common belief: It is important for all law enforcement agencies to act within the bounds of the law," Johnson's lawyer, Daniel Watkins, said in a statement. "Increased training, transparency, and accountability are good for law enforcement as well as the communities they serve. We will continue taking part in the legal process and cooperating with the governor's investigation to ensure that justice is served."
Johnson is due in court Thursday morning, where his lawyers have said he will enter a plea of "not guilty" to charges of obstruction and public intoxication.