New developments have surfaced in the Ahmaud Arbery case further indicating that the local authorities may have mishandled the incident. Two Glynn County commissioners allege that District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office blocked the arrests of Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael in connection with the Feb 23 shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) finally arrested the two men on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, the court denied bail. But if the claims of the officials are to be believed, the authorities were prevented from making the arrests earlier.
Dr. Peter Murphy, a Glynn County commissioner, told reporters that, “After multiple calls back and forth, the investigator was told by her (Johnson’s) assistant, a man named Rocky Bridges, that no arrests were to be made.”
Commissioner Allen Booker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Johnson was trying to shield the McMichaels from the authorities. “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,” he said. “She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”
Gregory McMichael is a retired police officer and investigator who worked for District Attorney Jackie Johnson previously. She recused herself from the case days after the shooting due to the apparent conflict of interest.
Johnson denied the allegations in a statement released to the press on Friday afternoon and pointed the finger at the police department for mishandling the case.
The statement read:
“It is unfortunate that Commissioners Murphy and Booker have chosen to make false accusations against District Attorney Jackie Johnson in an attempt to make excuses and ignore the problems at the Glynn County Police Department, for which they are ultimately responsible. Acting Police Chief Jay Wiggins has indicated that it was a mistake that then Police Chief John Powell did not immediately call in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate the death of Ahmaud Arbery.”
This is not the first time the district attorney has faced criticism for interfering in an arrest. WBSTV reported on an earlier investigation that Johnson made a deal with “the officers responsible for the 2010 fatal shooting of Caroline Small, an unarmed woman shot through the windshield of her car by two Glynn County police officers.”
The report states that “four former prosecutors from Johnson’s office said she protected those officers.” WBSTV’s investigation also found that Johnson “agreed not to show the grand jury the murder indictment she’d drafted,” and that she had “allowed the officers’ department to present a factually inaccurate animation they created showing Small’s car escaping through a gap and running over the officers.” The report also discusses other examples of Johnson’s office engaging in similar activities in other cases.
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