Though Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAulife has been virtually silent on the issue of whether a police report on the beating of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson should be made public, Republicans in the state are now demanding the report be made public.
The violent arrest of Martese Johnson by two white state alcohol agents happened last St. Patrick’s Day. Johnson, a Black student at the University of Virginia, was said to be disorderly. But the charges stemming from his arrest were later dropped. Photos of Johnson on the ground with blood covering his face went viral. Johnson received ten stitches in his head as a result of the police encounter.
Now, as Virginia’s top Democrats in Virginia remain silent, Virginia Republican Senator Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) and State Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), who sit on committees that oversee the state’s liquor cops, want the report on the Johnson beating to be public.
“If they did something wrong, we can fix it without throwing the baby out with the bath water,” Delegate Gilbert said. “I would not want to change the entire way they do business based on one incident or make a poor judgment, but without knowing exactly what happened, we’re sort of flying blind,” he told the Washington Post.
“I’m not going to be stonewalled. We’re an equal branch of government,” Wagner said in a phone interview with the Washington Post. “Clearly the public has a right to know,” he added.
Gov. McAuliffe called for a review of the incident. Last month it was announced that state police investigation had cleared the three agents involved in the beating. But despite demands from local press in the Commonwealth and the public, te report completed by the Virginia State Police has remained private.
Neither McAuliffe or Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring have commented on the issue. Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety, Brian Moran, has said the report contains personnel information and can’t be released.