The investigation into the race-driven murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia continues, as the suspects, Greg McMichael and his son Travis, were arrested Thursday afternoon for the February murder, and now we know exactly why it took so long: The elder McMichael worked for and was friends with the county DA, Jackie Johnson.
Two Glynn County commissioners say District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office refused to allow the Glynn County Police Department to make arrests immediately after the Feb. 23 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
The GBI announced the arrests of Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Greg McMichael, 64, on Thursday - more than two months after the fatal shooting. They were denied bond Friday afternoon.
“The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them. These were the police at the scene who had done the investigation,” Commissioner Allen Booker, who has spoken with Glynn County police, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”
Greg McMichael, now retired, once worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office.
Commissioner Peter Murphy, who also said he spoke directly to Glynn County police about the incident, said officers at the scene concluded they had probable cause to make arrests and contacted Johnson’s office to inform the prosecutor of their decision.
“They were told not to make the arrest,” Murphy said.
Johnson recused herself from the case within days of the shooting. Her office has not responded to a request to comment on the commissioners’ account of what happened, or on the case in general.
Arbery would have turned 26 today.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case.
Friday morning, GBI Director Vic Reynolds told reporters another arrest could be forthcoming. He also noted that by statute, the GBI’s involvement in a local case must be requested and declined to comment on how other agencies have handled the case.
“In a perfect world would we have liked to have been involved in February? Of course,” Reynolds said. “But it’s not a perfect world.”
Reynolds confirmed the harrowing video capturing Ahmaud Arbery’s death on Feb. 23 was made by William Bryan, who had helped Greg and Travis McMichael pursue Arbery as he ran through the Satilla Shores community just south of Brunswick.
“We’re investigating everyone involved in the case, including the individual who shot the video,” Reynolds said.
Again, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in cold blood would have never been prosecuted or even investigated if the video trophy hadn't been leaked, and frankly the case would have been closed under Georgia's stand your ground laws if the video hadn't been taken in the first place.
The McMichaels (and Bryan) would have 100% gotten away with murder otherwise. Greg McMichael was a retired cop. Retired cops don't get charged with murder.
As a side note, county prosecutor/district attorney/judge advocate elections matter. A local DA who dropped a felony murder charge because the suspect worked for her at one time and the victim was black should be facing a lifetime in prison along with the killers.
Johnson, the DA, recused herself because she had worked with Greg McMichael before. But the second prosecutor, George Barnhill, also came to the conclusion that there was no evidence to charge the McMichaels and then recused himself after the Arbery family asked him to because Barnhill's son also worked for Jackie Johnson in the DA's office. It went to a third DA, Tom Durden.
The NY Times picked up the story shortly after Durden became involved, then NBC News picked it up at the end of April.
And then the video spread Tuesday after Shaun King posted it on Twitter (side note numero dos, it may be the first real Black Lives Matter activist thing King has done in years in a career marked by grift and lies) The police and the DA's office had the video all along, but again, nothing was going to be done about it. It was only after the video leaked and caused outrage across the country that Durden brought in the GBI, the arrests were made, and he pushed for the grand jury proceedings.
Without the video, the McMichaels get away with this. We were never, ever meant to see it, the case was never, ever supposed to go to grand jury, let alone trial.
This is 2020. This level of massive injustice still exists daily.
Black Lives Still Matter.