10:11 AM PDT, September 3, 2021
A former Georgia prosecutor has been indicted on criminal charges in connection with the killing of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, authorities said.
A Glynn County grand jury charged ex-Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson with one felony count of violating her oath of office and one misdemeanor count of hindering a law enforcement officer.
The charges followed an investigation ordered by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr last year into the handling of Arbery’s February 2020 slaying by the local district attorney’s office.
The shooting death of 25-year-old Arbery sparked a national outcry after graphic cellphone video of the killing surfaced on social media months after his death. No charges were filed in connection with his killing until May, just days after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.
“While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice,” Carr, a Republican, said Thursday in a statement.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael, who are white, armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood, they told authorities. Travis McMichael opened fire after being attacked by the jogger, he and his father said.
Prosecutors who took over the case said Arbery was just jogging in the area when he was confronted and shot, and had done nothing wrong.
The McMichaels told investigators they believed Arbery was responsible for a string of burglaries. Neighbor William Bryan, who joined the pursuit and took cellphone video of the shooting, was also arrested in connection with the death. Bryan and the McMichaels have been charged with murder and are currently awaiting trial. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Greg McMichael had been an investigator in the local district attorney’s office and retired in 2019.
Evidence presented during pre-trial hearings included a voice mail left on Johnson’s cellphone by the elder McMichael not long after the shooting happened.
“Jackie, this is Greg,” he said, according to a recording of the call, which is part of the public case file, The Associated Press reported. “Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.”
According to the indictment, Johnson exhibited “favor and affection” toward Greg McMichael during the investigation and allegedly interfered with police at the scene by “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.”
Johnson has not publicly commented on the charges, but she has earlier denied any wrongdoing and defended her actions in connection with the case.
Johnson is one of two local prosecutors who ultimately recused themselves from the case, citing possible conflicts of interest.