“Consistent with the Glynn County Manager’s 2019 report describing the Glynn County Police Department’s ‘ongoing culture of cover-up, failure to supervise, abuse of power and lack of accountability,’ when Glynn County police officers arrived on the scene they did not arrest their former colleague Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, or William Bryan, despite the fact that all three had just participated in the gruesome execution of an unarmed person,” Cooper-Jones’ legal team said in the suit.
The offices of both district attorneys in Brunswick and Waycross are being investigated for “possible prosecutorial misconduct” in the case. ”The Attorney General is concerned that the actions of these offices in possibly misrepresenting or failing to disclose information during the process of appointing a conflict prosecutor to investigate the death of Ahmaud Arbery may have constituted unprofessional conduct (…) or other crimes,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a letter requesting an investigation.
His office received a letter from Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson on Feb. 27 advising of a conflict of interest because McMichael is a former investigator with her office. Johnson asked George Barnhill, the district attorney of the Waycross Judicial Circuit, to take on the case. “Not long after Mr. Barnhill’s appointment, he and Ms. Johnson learned that Mr. Barnhill’s son, an assistant district attorney in Ms. Johnson’s office, had worked with Mr. McMichael on a prosecution involving Mr. Arbery,” Carr said. “Mr. Barnhill, however, held onto the case for several more weeks after making this discovery.”
It was later discovered that Georgia police actually encouraged Gregory McMichael to play pretend cop for the neighborhood. “It appears that Gregory McMichael had been informally ‘deputized’ by the Glynn County Police Department,” said Elizabeth Graddy, an attorney for the owner of the home in question. Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Arbery’s family, tweeted on Tuesday: “Everyone involved in the targeting, murder and cover-up in the case of #AhmaudArbery must pay criminally and civilly. Did you know that one of the officers that gave the McMichaels permission to hunt Ahmaud still works for the PD?”
The anniversary of Arbery’s death prompted top Democrats throughout the nation to tweet messages calling for justice, including President Joe Biden. “A Black man should be able to go for a jog without fearing for his life,” the president tweeted. “Today, we remember Ahmaud Arbery’s life and we dedicate ourselves to making this country safer for people of color.” Rep. Cori Bush tweeted: “We cannot forget his life. We cannot forget his story. We cannot forget that the system almost let his killers get away. ”
Bernice King, activist and the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted: “You should be here. I’m praying for your family and committed to working toward a nation and world where Black men aren’t hunted and gunned down for being Black.” Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she’s thinking of Arbery’s family and praying for their healing. “The murder of #AhmaudArbery is proof that we must construct a system where justice is the foundation & not the ceiling of our imagination,” Abrams tweeted. “A system that brings equal justice to Black people & prevents unjust murders of Black people, where protest is often the only solace.”