Former Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery’s Death Faces Criminal Charges

    A grand jury indicted a former prosecutor in Georgia on Thursday, accusing her of “showing favor and affection” to one of the men now charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery and for directing police officers not to arrest another suspect.

    The prosecutor, Jackie Johnson, a former district attorney in Glynn County, had recused herself from the case involving Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was confronted by three white men while jogging through their neighborhood.

    The fatal encounter, which stoked national outrage, was recorded on a cellphone video by William Bryan, who filmed Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael fatally shooting Mr. Arbery. All three have been charged with murder.

    Ms. Johnson is charged with “violation of oath of public officer” and “obstruction and hindering a law enforcement officer,” according to the indictment, which the state attorney general’s office released on Thursday.

    The indictment says Ms. Johnson failed “to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity” by not disclosing that she had sought the assistance of another district attorney before recommending that he take over the case. Ms. Johnson recused herself because Gregory McMichael had worked in her office.

    She also “knowingly and willfully” directed two Glynn County police officers not to arrest Travis McMichael, “contrary to the laws of said state,” the indictment said.

    “Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” the state attorney general, Chris Carr, said in a statement, adding that the state was continuing to investigate Mr. Arbery’s case.

    It is now being led by a fourth prosecutor, whom Mr. Carr appointed in May 2020.

    George E. Barnhill of the Waycross Judicial Circuit, the district attorney who replaced Ms. Johnson, later stepped aside because his son worked for Ms. Johnson. He advised that the McMichaels were protected by the state’s citizen’s arrest law and self-defense statutes and should not be held responsible for the killing.

    The third prosecutor, from a smaller county office, was removed after the state attorney general determined he was not equipped to handle the sprawling case.

    In February 2020, the McMichaels armed themselves with a shotgun and a handgun and chased Mr. Arbery in a pickup truck, later telling investigators they thought he looked like a man suspected in a rash of break-ins in the area.

    As they followed Mr. Arbery, they yelled, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you,” according to Gregory McMichael’s account in a police report. Mr. Arbery was fatally shot by Travis McMichael after Mr. McMichael got out of the truck, the authorities said.

    Ms. Johnson was voted out of office later that year, largely as a result of criticism over her handling of cases including Mr. Arbery’s.

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