The Brunswick district attorney in office at the time of Ahmaud Arbery’s deadly gunshot was indicted Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 on two counts of obstructing a police investigation and a third charge of violating the oath of a public officer.
According to the indictment, former District Attorney Jackie Johnson hampered the investigation by instructing detectives not to arrest the main suspect on the day of the incident, the Washington Examiner reported.
“On or about Feb. 23, 2020, said accused violated the above provision of her oath of District Attorney by showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, thereby failing to discharge her duties as district attorney,” Attorney General Chris Carr’s indictment said. Carr also accused Johnson of “failing to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.”
“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” Carr said 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.”
Arbery was murdered by a gunshot on Feb. 23, 2020, after a white father and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man in a pickup truck in their community outside of Brunswick, some 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Savannah.
William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor, joined the chase and recorded Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun on his iPhone. Arbery was shot after attacking Travis McMichael, according to the McMichaels, who thought he was a burglar, AP News reported.
Following the incident, the police did not charge any of them. As a result, the McMichaels and Bryan were free for more than two months until the cellphone footage of the shooting was posted online, prompting Gov. Brian Kemp to request that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation take over the case.
In May 2020, both McMichaels and Bryan were charged with murder and other charges, and they will stand trial this fall. Arbery was only running in their neighborhood when Travis McMichael shot him, according to prosecutors. They said that there is no indication that Arbery committed a crime.
They face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. In June 2020, a third man was arrested and charged with felony murder and a criminal attempt to conduct false imprisonment for filming the murder.
Johnson is accused of breaking her oath as a public officer after reportedly showing “favor and affection” for Gregory McMichael, the father. The latter worked as an investigator for the Brunswick district attorney’s office. In all cases, Johnson has denied any misconduct.
The violation charge is a felony punishable by one to five years in jail, while the hindering charges are misdemeanors that would add another 12 months to the sentence.