Bar Owner Describes Moments Before Martese Johnson Arrest

By  | 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA (NEWSPLEX) -- It’s the photo and video that went viral…

“How did this happen? How did this happen you racists?"

UVa third year student Martese Johnson on the ground, his face streaming with blood.

We sat down with the owner of the pub that denied him entry just moments before the arrest.

“I think people deserve to know what actually was the interaction between me and Mr. Johnson.”

Trinity Irish Pub co-owner Kevin Badke says when Martese got to the door, he asked him an important question...one that bouncers often use as a litmus test to see if a person is using their real ID.

“What’s your zip code?”

What Martese didn’t know was that Badke is also from the South Side of Chicago. When Martese got the answer wrong, Badke said he just couldn’t take the chance.

“He was just disappointed he didn’t get in. He was just acting like a normal college kid.”

But despite an ABC arrest report that described Martese as “belligerent” and "very agitated”...

Badke says that wasn’t what he saw at all.

“I didn’t think he was intoxicated at all. It was very cordial. I actually asked him what high school he went to.”

He says the likelihood that the ABC agents heard their conversation on a busy night is not good, but they probably saw Johnson get denied access to the bar.

“Mr. Johnson’s ID, I got the wrong zip code, I went like here, so he walks this way. “

And the time that lapsed between the Martese talking to him and being on the ground? Badke says it only took moments… A brief minute before things turned ugly..turning around to see Johnson on the ground.

“Went back to carding other patrons that were coming in when I heard a commotion, I turn around, and he’s on the ground.”

But why were the agents there in the first place? Badke says they were told leading up the St. Patrick’s Day that they would be watched that night.

“We’re going to check up on establishments that are of Irish heritage, pretty much.”

He says ABC agents were staked out in front of his restaurant that night, watching them ID potential patrons.

“They hold my business, my livelihood. You know I moved from Chicago to do this, I moved away from my family and friend. This isn’t just a hobby. This is my livelihood. So, when the people that hold my business in the palm of their hand are outside I’m going to make sure things are going well at the door. "

Badke says despite a report from a disgruntled former employee, there is no racial profiling by their restaurant.

“Our current head of security is African American, over the five years that we’ve been open we’ve had five head of securities and three have been African American. That is completely false and ridiculous and I take huge offense to that…“

And the idea that something like this could happen in his town, he says is troubling.

“Yeah, I’ve seen them arrest people before. Has it gotten that physical, no, and no one deserves that and Mr. Johnson did not deserve that in the least. I don’t think anyone does.”