A Georgia grand jury has accused the former district attorney who oversaw the investigation into Ahmaud Arbery’s death, alleging that she illegally impeded the arrests of two men who chased and shot the jogger.
Jackie Johnson, a former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney, is charged with one felony count of violating a public official’s oath and one misdemeanour count of obstructing and impeding a law enforcement officer.
The accusations were revealed Thursday by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” Carr said. “We thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Glynn County Grand Jury for their hard work. While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice.”
The indictment accused Johnson of showing favor to two of the three men charged with murder in the Arbery case — Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael. The elder McMichael was a retired police officer who previously worked with Johnson.
Though Johnson recused herself from the case because of her connection to Greg McMichael, the indictment said she instructed Glynn County police officers not to arrest Travis McMichael.
She’s also accused of recommending that Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill take over the case even though she had already consulted him prior to her recusal. She allegedly failed to notify Carr that she and Waycross had discussed the case prior to his appointment.
If convicted, Johnson faces up to five years on the felony charge and up to one year on the misdemeanor.
The McMichaels, along with William “Roddie” Bryan, each face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment for the Feb. 23, 2020, death of Arbery.
Video footage from Bryan’s vehicle showed Arbery’s death as he was jogging through a Brunswick neighborhood less than 2 miles from his home. It shows Arbery, 25, being boxed in by two pickup trucks driven by the defendants. Travis McMichael then appears to get out of his vehicle and shoot Arbery three times with a shotgun.
The elder McMichael told police they pursued Arbery after suspecting he’d committed a series of break-ins in the neighborhood, though there hadn’t been a string of break-ins reported in the area in weeks.
All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges.