Former DA indicted for mishandling investigation of Ahmaud Arbery’s death

“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly.”

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Accused of failing to uphold her oath of office and refusing to charge the ex-cop and his son who killed an innocent man on video, former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson was indicted Thursday on one count of violation of oath of public officer and one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, when both Gregory and Travis McMichael began to follow Arbery with two firearms in their white pickup truck. As Bryan William followed them while recording a video on his cellphone, Arbery attempted to run around the truck as McMichael aimed his shotgun at him.

Despite the fact that Arbery did not commit a crime, Travis McMichael fatally shot the unarmed man three times. Travis’ father, Gregory McMichael, who was also brandishing a firearm at the scene, used to work for the Glynn County Police Department (GCPD) and as an investigator for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.

Due to the fact that Gregory McMichael had worked as an investigator for District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office, Johnson allegedly ordered the investigators not to arrest McMichael and his son for killing Arbery. Johnson later recused herself from the case because of her connection to Gregory McMichael.

In May 2020, the McMichaels and William were arrested on state charges of felony murder. In April 2021, they were each charged in federal court with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping. Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing—and in Travis’ case, discharging—a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

On Thursday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that Johnson had been indicted on one count of violation of oath of public officer and one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer. According to the indictment, Johnson violated her oath by “failing to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.” She also allegedly ordered GCPD officers Stephanie Oliver and Stephan Lowrey not to arrest her former investigator, Gregory McMichael, and his son while initially investigating Arbery’s death.

“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” said Attorney General Carr in a press release. “We thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Glynn County Grand Jury for their hard work. While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice.”

Johnson faces up to five years in prison for violation of oath along with a maximum sentence of one year for obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

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