Former Georgia DA booked, accused of obstructing Ahmaud Arbery case

Jackie Johnson was indicted last week on misconduct charges alleging she used her position to shield the alleged killers

Former Georgia district attorney Jackie Johnson turned herself into the Glynn County Sheriff’s office Wednesday morning after being indicted for alleged mishandling of the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Johnson was indicted last week on misconduct charges alleging she used her position to shield the men who chased and killed Arbery from being charged with crimes immediately after the shootings, theGrio previously reported.

Jackie Johnson
Jackie Johnson, the former district attorney for Georgia’s Brunswick Judicial Circuit (Credit: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office)

A grand jury in coastal Glynn County indicted the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney on charges of violating her oath of office and hindering a law enforcement officer. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson was released from the Glynn County Detention Center on a $10K bond.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23, 2020, after a white father and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-Black man in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood outside the coastal city of Brunswick.

A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun. The McMichaels said they believed Arbery was a burglar and that they shot him in self-defense after he attacked Travis McMichael with his fists.

The three suspected white supremacists remained free for more than two months, as the police did not charge any of them immediately following the killing. Johnson was the county’s top prosecutor at the time. All three were ultimately charged with murder in May 2020 and will face trial this fall.

Johnson insists she did nothing wrong because she immediately recused the DA’s office from handling the case because Greg McMichael was working as an investigator there at the time. He reportedly left her a cell phone message following the shooting.

She recommended an outside prosecutor, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, who was appointed to the case and concluded no charges were warranted. Barnhill later stepped aside after Arbery’s family noted he had a son working for Johnson as an assistant prosecutor.

Johnson lost her bid for reelection last year.

Ahmaud Arbery Suspects
Left to right: Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.(Photo: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“Yesterday was a very huge win,” Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery’s mother, told reporters last week after Johnson’s indictment was announced. “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.”

If convicted, Johnson faces one to five years for violating her oath of office, per CBS. The obstruction charge is punishable by up to a year in jail.

In April, the Justice Department brought federal hate crimes charges in Arbery’s death, charging Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory, and Bryan with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

This story contains additional reporting from The Associated Press

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