A former Georgia prosecutor has been indicted on misconduct charges alleging she used her position to shield the men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery from being charged with crimes immediately after the shootings.
Jackie Johnson, a former district attorney on the Brunswick judicial circuit, was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday September 2, on charges of violating her oath of office and hindering a law enforcement officer.
On February 23, 2020, Arbery was jogging in a Georgia neighborhood when he was allegedly pursued and cornered by Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, who are both White. The two men were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault in May 2020. The McMichaels told police they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect, claiming they acted in self-defense.
William Bryan, the man who recorded the killing, has been charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Bryan has maintained his innocence. In May, all three men pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges.
Arbery’s mother’s lawsuit, which seeks millions in damages, said McMichael previously worked as a police officer and had also worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office for the entirety of her tenure until his retirement in 2019.
In an attempt to allegedly rescue herself due to the conflict of interest, Johnson assigned Arbery’s investigation to another district attorney — George E. Barnhill — who she allegedly knew would be sympathetic to the case due to his own alleged personal connection to Gregory McMichael, the lawsuit added.
Thursday’s indictment accused Johnson of showing “favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation,” directing police officers at the scene to not place Travis McMichael under arrest and failing to disclose that she had sought Barnill’s assistance on the case before assigning him to it.
If convicted, Johnson could face up to six years behind bars. A felony charge for violating the oath carries a maximum sentence of five years and the misdemeanor charge for obstructing and hindering an officer carries up to 12 months.