The former police officer recently arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery had previously lost the right to make arrests or carry a gun following repeated instances of failing to attend use-of-force training sessions.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested in connection to the Feb. 23 slaying earlier this month on charges of murder and aggravated assault, according to the Associated Press. In the wake of the arrests and amid an ever-growing call for justice, new reports suggest that McMichael, a former detective, had skipped required training multiple times before he retired last year.
McMichael had his law enforcement certification suspended in February 2019, one year before Arbery's murder, after failing to attend multiple required training sessions, including ones related to use-of-force, according to court documents obtained by The Washington Post.
McMichael failed to complete the required number of training hours in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010; in at least three of those years, McMichael skipped required training related to the use of firearms and use-of-force, the outlet reports. When the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) notified McMichael's then-boss, district attorney Jackie Johnson, of these absences, she responded with a letter calling it an "embarrassment."
“This situation has been a great embarrassment to me and to Investigator McMichael,” the June 2014 letter reads, according to The Post. “It has negatively impacted my office, and I have taken measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Please accept my sincere apology.”
McMichael applied for a waiver excusing his missed training hours, pointing to health difficulties he and his wife experienced between 2006 and 2009 as the reason for his absences, according to personnel records obtained by The Post. That waiver was granted in 2014, and he continued working as an investigator for Johnson's office.
However, McMichael was suspended in February 2019 due to “failure to maintain training for the year 2018,” according to records obtained by The Post. It was the second time McMichael lost the power to act as a law enforcement officer and issue arrests; it happened for the first time in 2006, due to an infraction that occurred in 2005, but the nature of that incident is unclear, according to the outlet.
Following his 2019 suspension, McMichael reportedly surrendered his badge and weapon but continued to work in a local district attorney's office as a non-sworn employee until June 2019, when he retired.
McMichael's history has been placed under a microscope following Arbery's murder and officials' handling of the case. Gregory and Travis McMichael are alleged to have chased and fatally shot Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was jogging in a residential neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23 They claimed that they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect and they were intending to make a citizen's arrest, but the lack of an arrest following the killing sparked public outrage, the fires of which were stoked when a video of the shooting was released to the public earlier this month.
The father and son have routinely declined to comment on the case, but attorneys for the McMichaels accused the public of vilifying their clients before knowing the facts of the case, in a statement obtained by CNN this week.
"While the death of Ahmaud Arbery is a tragedy, causing deep grief to his family — a tragedy that at first appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life — this case does not fit that pattern," attorney Frank Hogue said. "The full story, to be revealed in time, will tell the truth about this case."
Attorneys for Arbery's family — S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump, and L. Chris Stewart — responded to the statement from the McMichael's lawyers with a statement of their own.
"The men who ambushed Ahmaud Arbery rushed to judgment on February 23," their statement reads, in part, according to CNN. "We only wish that (he) had provided that same presumption of innocence to Ahmaud Arbery before chasing and killing him."
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