A painting by Ahmaud Arbery is on display during a vigil at New Springfield Baptist Church on February 23, 2021 in Waynesboro, GA.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images
A former Georgia prosecutor was charged Thursday for violating her oath of office and interfering with a police officer in connection with an investigation into the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was shot and killed after three white men chased him in trucks.
Former Brunswick Judicial Circuit attorney Jackie Johnson is charged with favoring a defendant in the murder, retired police officer Greg McMichael, 65, who worked for her as an investigator.
The grand jury indictment states that Johnson recommended the appointment of a different district attorney to handle the case, without disclosing that she had previously used that attorney’s assistance in the Arbery investigation.
Johnson is also charged with improperly blocking the arrest of Travis McMichael, Greg’s son.
The McMichaels had followed and shot Arbery (25) in their truck on February 23, 2020 in Braunschweig.
The attack was filmed by a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, who was driving behind them in another truck.
Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times with a shotgun.
Johnson was a prosecutor at the time of the assassination. Although she disqualified herself from handling the case as a prosecutor, the grand jury indictment states that she took several measures that ultimately delayed the arrests of McMichaels and Bryan.
The case against Johnson was brought to the Glynn County Grand Jury by Attorney General Chris Carr.
“Our office is committed to ensuring that those entrusted with the service perform their duties ethically and honestly,” Carr said in a prepared statement Thursday.
“We thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Glynn County Grand Jury for their hard work. Although an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed and we will continue the investigation to seek justice,” he said.
The McMichaels, who claimed they thought Arbery was a burglar, were charged with murder in May 2020 after a third prosecutor, the Liberty County prosecutor, took over the case. Bryan was charged with murder later that month.
The three men who pleaded not guilty are due to begin their trial next month on the case.
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In April, both men were charged with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping by a federal grand jury along with Bryan.
Thursday’s indictment against Johnson states that following Arbery’s murder, she recommended that the Attorney General take the case to Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill “without disclosing that” she “was previously assisting Attorney Barnhill had claimed the case “.
The grand jury said Johnson had failed to “treat Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity”.
If convicted on these charges of violating a public official’s oath, Johnson faces a prison sentence of between one and five years.
Barnhill, after taking the case, had defended the behavior of the McMichaels and Bryan, writing to Glynn County police that the men had “a solid probable reason” for pursuing and stopping Arbery, a “burglar suspect”.
The indictment also states that Johnson knowingly and willingly obstructed the legal discharge of two Glynn County police officers “by ordering that Travis McMichael should not be arrested”.
If convicted for this offense, Johnson faces a prison sentence of up to one year.