Investigation into arrest of U-Va. student could take weeks

WASHINGTON — The investigation into last week’s bloody arrest of a black University of Virginia student could take a while, says one of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s cabinet members.

McAuliffe called upon Brian Moran, Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, to have Virginia State Police investigate the March 18 arrest of 20-year-old university student Martese Johnson.

“It’s capable of lasting weeks,” he says.

The student suffered a gash to his head — which required stitches — while being arrested by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control — or ABC — agents.

“The thoroughness of this investigation is key,” says Moran, “and at the conclusion, I think people will see that it’s important to get the facts right before we jump to conclusions.”

Also, Moran says, if the investigation reveals there’s a need for corrective actions, the state will take them. The question is whether ABC agents should have the power to make arrests.

“I suspect the morning hours of March 18 will renew those discussions and the governor looks forward to having those discussions with the legislature,” Moran says.

State lawmakers have studied the issue of ABC having a duel role: enforcement of state alcohol laws and the sale and distribution of alcohol.

When asked if the arrest of Johnson by ABC agents was racially motivated, Moran said he didn’t know. That’s why they’re pursuing the investigation, he added.

Moran also brought up the arrest of another U-Va. student by ABC agents. In that case, agents swarmed the car of Elizabeth Daly after mistaking a carton of sparkling water for beer. Daly was 20 years old at the time of the incident.

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