Georgia deputy resigns after fallout over Ahmaud Arbery ‘criminal’ comment

·2 min read

A Georgia sheriff's deputy who was suspended over comments he made about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery resigned from his position.

Former Houston County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Urhahn wrote in a letter of resignation that he was stepping away over the department's handling of the incident.

In the letter, which the department shared with NBC News, Urhahn wrote that he was exercising free speech when he called Arbery a "criminal" who "got the death penalty."

He made the remarks in the comment section on WGXA-TV’s Facebook page after Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were sentenced to life in prison earlier this month.

The comment was later deleted, but screenshots were shared with news outlets and with the sheriff's office.

“I want you to know I have appreciated the opportunity to serve as a Deputy Sheriff for Houston County for the past 20 years, a position I have held with Honor, Integrity, and Dedication," Urhahn wrote.

"However, as you are aware, during my off-duty time while exercising my Constitutional rights to Free Speech, a very unfortunate series of events occurred, and the manner in which they were handled, is something I cannot support."

Urhahn said after "deep consideration" he decided that he could not "continue as a member of this team and organization."

"To continue to do so would be against who I am and what I believe in," he wrote in his letter. His resignation went into effect on Wednesday.

The sheriff's office had conducted an internal investigation after it became aware of Urhahn's comments. He was suspended pending termination for violating departmental policy.

"Per Sheriff’s Office policy, 10 days are given to appeal this decision. Paul Urhahn chose not to appeal the decision and has resigned," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook statement on Wednesday.

Urhahn's firing was scheduled to go into effect on Thursday.

Arbery, a Black man, was fatally shot in February 2020. The McMichaels grabbed guns and chased after Arbery in their pickup truck after they saw him running in their neighborhood of Satilla Shores.

Bryan, their neighbor, joined the pursuit in his truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing close-range shotgun blasts into Arbery, 25.

The three were sentenced to life in prison with a judge denying any chance of parole for the McMichaels.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting