Savannah, Georgia – A former Georgia prosecutor was indicted on Thursday on allegations of misconduct, accusing her of using her position to protect those who hunted down Ahmed Abery so as not to be caught immediately after the shooting. Charge a crime.
A grand jury in Coastal Green County indicted the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson for felony and misdemeanor of violating her oath of office and obstructing law enforcement officials.
The indictment originated from Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr’s request last year for the investigation of the local prosecutor’s handling of the Abery murder case, because the mobile phone video of the shooting and the delay in the allegations triggered a national outcry.
Republican Carl said in a statement: “Although the indictment has been returned today, our files have not been closed, and we will continue to investigate to seek justice.”
Arbery was killed on February 23, 2020, when the white father and son Greg and Travis McMichael found him running in a neighborhood outside the coastal city of Brunswick, armed themselves and hunted down the 25-year-old black man with a pickup truck. Approximately 70 miles (112 kilometers) south.
Neighbor William “Rody” Bryan joined the chase and filmed a mobile phone video of Travis McMichael shooting Abery with a shotgun at close range. McMichaels said they believed Arbery was a thief, and he was shot and killed after attacking Travis McMichael.
After the shooting, the police did not immediately file charges against any of them. The McMichael and his wife and Brian were at large for more than two months until the mobile phone video of the shooting was leaked online. Governor Brian Ken Brian Kemp asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to take action. Pass the case.
Both McMichaels and Bryan were charged with murder and other crimes in May 2020 and face trial this fall. The prosecutor said that Arbery was only jogging near them, and when Travis McMichael shot him, he was unarmed. They said there was no evidence that Abery had committed a crime.
Greg McMichael worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office and retired in 2019. The evidence provided at the pre-trial hearing of the murder showed that he called Johnson’s cell phone shortly after the shooting and left her a voice message.
“Jackie, this is Greg,” he said based on the recording of the call in the public case file. “Can you call me as soon as possible? My son and I were involved in a shooting. I need some advice.”
Greg McMichael’s cell phone call records that day did not show that Johnson had called him.
The indictment stated that Johnson showed “goodwill and affection” towards Greg McMichael during the investigation and interfered with the police at the scene by “instructing Travis McMichael not to be arrested.”
Johnson did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on Thursday afternoon. She had previously insisted that she had done nothing wrong, saying that she immediately avoided the case because Greg McMichael was a former employee.
“I believe that when the truth finally comes to light, people will understand that our office did what it had to do in this situation,” Johnson told the Associated Press in November after losing his re-election.
Abery’s mother’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, said in a statement on Thursday that prosecutors “must take responsibility when they intervene in an investigation to protect friends and law enforcement.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, posted her reaction on Facebook: “The former DA Jackie Johnson…is sued!!! JusticeForMyBaby!!!”
When Carl called for an investigation into the prosecution’s misconduct, he asked GBI to investigate not only Johnson’s actions in connection with the killing, but also the actions of Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill. The charges against Barnhill have not been announced.
After the shooting, Johnson called Barnhill to deal with police questions about how to handle the shooting.
Carl finally appointed Barnhill to take over on February 27, four days after the shooting. Carl said in a letter that ordered an investigation in May last year that he was never told that Barnhill had informed the police that “he sees no reason to arrest anyone in connection with Mr. Abery’s death.”
After Abery’s family learned that his son was an assistant prosecutor for Johnson, Barnhill later avoided himself. But before he walked away, Barnhill wrote a letter to a Sheriff in Green County, stating that the McMichael family “are in’hot pursuit’ of a burglary suspect and have a reliable first-hand near them. Probable cause, and ask/tell him to stop.”
“It looks like their intention is to stop and detain this suspect before law enforcement personnel arrive. According to Georgia law, this is completely legal,” Barnhill suggested in the letter, citing the Georgia Civil War period Of citizens’ arrest regulations.
The law was repealed with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats in May 2021 as a response to Abery’s death.
Johnson told the Associated Press in May 2020 that the Green County police contacted her two assistant prosecutors on the day of the shooting. She said it was the police who “deemed it as a burglary with self-defense problems.”
“Due to the obvious conflict between us, our office cannot provide them with advice or help,” Johnson said.
After ten years as the chief prosecutor of the five-county tour in southeastern Georgia, Johnson blamed the controversy over Abery’s death on her election failure last year. She was defeated by independent candidate Keith Higgins, who had to collect thousands of signatures to vote.