Ex-prosecutor Jackie Johnson indicted for misconduct in Ahmaud Arbery death

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FILE – In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 record photo, District Attorney Jackie Johnson campaigns for reelection connected St. Simons Island, Ga. Johnson, a erstwhile Georgia authoritative was indicted Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 connected misconduct charges alleging she utilized her presumption to shield the men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery from being charged with crimes instantly aft the shootings. (Terry Dickson/The Brunswick News via AP, File)

A erstwhile Georgia authoritative was indicted Thursday connected misconduct charges alleging she utilized her presumption to shield the men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery from being charged with crimes instantly aft the shootings.

A expansive assemblage successful coastal Glynn County indicted erstwhile Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson connected a felony number of violating her oath of bureau and hindering a instrumentality enforcement officer, a misdemeanor.

The indictment resulted from an investigation Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr requested past twelvemonth into section prosecutors’ handling of Arbery’s slaying aft a cellphone video of the shooting and a hold successful charges sparked a nationalist outcry.

“While an indictment was returned today, our record is not closed, and we volition proceed to analyse successful bid to prosecute justice,” Carr, a Republican, said successful a statement.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23, 2020, aft a achromatic begetter and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, equipped themselves and pursued the 25-year-Black antheral successful a pickup motortruck aft spotting him moving successful their vicinity extracurricular the coastal metropolis of Brunswick, astir 70 miles (112 kilometers) southbound of Savannah.

A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan joined the pursuit and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery astatine adjacent scope with a shotgun. The McMichales said they believed Arbery was a burglar and that helium was changeable aft attacking Travis McMichael.

Police did not complaint immoderate of them instantly pursuing the shooting, and the McMichaels and Bryan remained escaped for much than 2 months until the cellphone video of the shooting was leaked online and Gov. Brian Kemp asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to instrumentality implicit the case.

Both McMichaels and Bryan were charged with execution and different crimes successful May 2020 and look proceedings this fall. Prosecutors accidental Arbery was simply jogging successful their vicinity and was unarmed erstwhile Travis McMichael changeable him. They accidental determination is nary grounds Arbery had committed a crime.

Greg McMichael had worked arsenic an researcher successful Johnson’s office, having retired successful 2019. Evidence introduced successful pretrial hearings successful the execution lawsuit shows helium called Johnson’s cellphone and near her a dependable connection soon aft the shooting occurred.

“Jackie, this is Greg,” helium said, according to a signaling of the telephone included successful the nationalist lawsuit file. “Could you telephone maine arsenic soon arsenic you perchance can? My lad and I person been progressive successful a shooting and I request immoderate proposal close away.”

A grounds of Greg McMichael’s cellphone calls that time does not amusement that Johnson called him back.

The indictment says Johnson showed “favor and affection” toward Greg McMichael successful the probe and interfered with constabulary officers astatine the country by “directing that Travis McMichael should not beryllium placed nether arrest.”

Johnson did not instantly instrumentality a telephone connection seeking remark Thursday afternoon. She has antecedently insisted she did thing wrong, saying she instantly recused herself from the lawsuit due to the fact that Greg McMichael was a erstwhile employee.

“I’m assured that erstwhile the information yet comes retired connected that, radical volition recognize our bureau did what it had to nether the circumstances,” Johnson told The Associated Press successful November aft she mislaid reelection.

Lee Merritt, an lawyer for Arbery’s mother, said successful a connection Thursday that prosecutors “must beryllium held accountable erstwhile they interfere with investigations successful bid to support friends and instrumentality enforcement.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, posted her absorption connected Facebook: “Former DA Jackie Johnson….Indicted!!! JusticeForMyBaby!!!!”

In his telephone for an probe into prosecutorial misconduct, Carr asked the GBI not lone to analyse Johnson’s actions related to the sidesplitting but besides those of Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill. No charges person been announced against Barnhill.

After the shooting, Johnson called Barnhill to grip questions from constabulary astir however to grip the shooting.

Carr ended up appointing Barnhill to instrumentality implicit connected Feb. 27, 4 days aft the shooting. In his missive ordering an probe past May, Carr said helium was ne'er told that Barnhill had already advised constabulary “that helium did not spot grounds for the apprehension of immoderate of the individuals progressive successful Mr. Arbery’s death.”

Barnhill aboriginal recused himself arsenic well, aft Arbery’s household learned his lad worked for Johnson arsenic an adjunct prosecutor. But earlier helium stepped aside, Barnhill wrote a missive to a Glynn County constabulary skipper saying the McMichaels “were following, successful ‘hot pursuit,’ a burglary suspect, with coagulated archetypal manus probable cause, successful their neighborhood, and asking/ telling him to stop.”

“It appears their intent was to halt and clasp this transgression fishy until instrumentality enforcement arrived. Under Georgia Law this is perfectly legal,” Barnhill advised successful the letter, referencing Georgia’s Civil War-era national apprehension statute.

That instrumentality was repealed successful May 2021, with overwhelming enactment from Republicans and Democrats, arsenic a absorption to Arbery’s death.

Johnson told the AP successful May 2020 that Glynn County constabulary contacted 2 of her adjunct prosecutors connected the time of the shooting. She said it was the officers who “represented it arsenic burglary lawsuit with a self-defense issue.”

“Our bureau could not counsel oregon assistance them due to the fact that of our evident conflict,” Johnson said.

Johnson blamed the contention implicit Arbery’s decease for her predetermination decision past twelvemonth aft a decennary arsenic apical authoritative for the five-county circuit successful southeast Georgia. She was defeated by autarkic campaigner Keith Higgins, who had to cod thousands of signatures to get connected the ballot.

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