A former Georgia District Attorney has been arrested on charges linked to her alleged mishandling of the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was pursued and gunned down as he jogged through a Brunswick neighborhood last year.
Jackie Johnson, who was indicted by a grand jury last week on one felony count of violating her oath of office and one misdemeanor count of interfering with a police investigation, is accused of using her position to delay the arrests of three white men who killed Arbery in February of 2020.
The ex-Glynn County district attorney turned herself in to the Glynn County Sheriff’s office Wednesday morning, September 8, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
She was released later on $10,000 bond.
Johnson was the county’s top prosecutor when Arbery was fatally shot last year, and one of the armed men who pursued him had worked for her as an investigator.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, sought the indictment of Johnsons after requesting an investigation of possible misconduct by local prosecutors who failed to bring charges in the killing.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves with guns and gave chase in a pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2020, after they spotted Arbery running in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick (read here).
A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery fought back with his fists.
The McMichaels told police they thought Arbery was a burglar and that Travis McMichael shot him in self-defense.
No arrests were made in the shooting until more than two months later, after the cellphone video leaked online, sparking a national outcry, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.
The McMichaels and Bryan are now jailed as they await trial on murder charges.
Johnson has insisted she did nothing wrong, saying she immediately recused her office from handling the case because Greg McMichael had been an employee.
Still, Arbery’s parents and their attorneys have long accused the ex-district attorney of trying to help the young man’s killers avoid prosecution.
After Johnson’s indictment was announced last week, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, said: “Yesterday was a very huge win. I’m speechless. Unfortunately, Ahmaud is not here with us today. But losing Ahmaud, it will change some things here in the state of Georgia.”
Johnson would face one to five years in prison if convicted of violating her oath of office. The obstruction charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
The indictment says Johnson violated her oath by “showing favor and affection” to Greg McMichael and “failing to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.” It also says she obstructed police by “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.”
“She should spend time in prison,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s mother. “Her actions are not just acts of negligence, but she actively worked to cover up the murder.”
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