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A former Georgia prosecutor accused of mishandling the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery has been formally charged, officials announced this week.
On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Jackie Johnson, the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney, on a single felony charge of violating her oath of office, and a separate misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer in Arbery’s death.
Johnson is accused of “showing favor and affection” to Gregory McMichael, who along with his son, Travis McMichael, are accused of shooting and killing Arbery in February 2020, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement Thursday.
Carr also credited the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for their role in bringing charges.
“We thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Glynn County Grand Jury for their hard work. While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice.”
According to prosecutors, Arbery was gunned down by the two men while jogging through a neighborhood on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory and Travis McMichael allegedly armed themselves and opened fire on the 25-year-old after chasing him down in a pickup truck, a disturbing recording of the incident shows.
Video of the incident sparked nationwide anger, fanning the flames of protests in major cities across the country.
Johnson previously recused herself from prosecuting the case due to the fact Gregory McMichael was once employed as an investigator in her office. According to the Associated Press, the elder McMichael left Johnson a voicemail after Arbery was fatally shot.
However, the newly handed down charges accuse Johnson of colluding with Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George E. Barnhill prior to recusing herself from the investigation.
“After the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, said accused sought the assistance of Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George E. Barnhill and, after disqualifying her office, recommended DA Barnhill to the Attorney General’s Office for appointment as the case prosecutor without disclosing that said accused had previously sought the assistance of DA Barnhill on the case,” the indictment stated.
Arbery’s family applauded news of the indictment.
“When I received the news, I was at work,” Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt, told WJXT. “I was very overjoyed because this is a step closer to justice for Ahmaud. It’s not a conviction, but an indictment is going in the right direction.”
The indictment also alleged that Johnson failed to “treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.”
In February, on the one-year anniversary of Arbery’s death, his family filed a multi-million dollar federal lawsuit against county officials, accusing them of covering up the investigation into his death.
“I just knew something wasn’t right with that because they should have been arrested,” Carla, another aunt of Arbery’s, added. “Because if someone else, they would have been arrested the same day, and there would have already been a court hearing and everything for them. But it always worked out on time, and I just thank God that she has been indicted.”
If convicted on both charges, Johnson could face a maximum punishment of up to six years in prison.
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