The former Georgia District Attorney Jackie Johnson could go to prison after allegedly helping to protect Gregory McMichael after his son fatally shot 25-year-old black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
A grand jury on Thursday indicted the former Brunswick District Attorney for allegedly violating her oath of office and obstructing law enforcement following the deadly shooting in February 2020.
The indictment, which was first filed back in September, alleges that after his son, Travis, 35, fatally shot Arbery, Greg McMichael, 65, called Johnson’s cellphone and said: “Jackie this is Greg. Could you call me as soon as you possibly can.”
“My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away,” he continued in the 39-second call.
McMichael had previously worked in her office as an investigator until his retirement in 2019. Officers with the Glynn County Police Department investigating the killing also reportedly called Johnson for advice on what to do in the aftermath. Johnson proceeded to allegedly “knowingly and willfully directed that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest, contrary to the laws of the State.”
Furthermore, the indictment claims Johnson violated her oath of office “by showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.”
If convicted by a jury, Johnson faces five years in prison.
Johnson led the investigation to nearby Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill after she recused herself from the case due to her connections with McMichael.
She then recommended to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office that Barnhill handle the case, but without disclosing that she had already discussed the case with Barnhill, and thus failed “to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.”
Barnhill was then appointed to oversee the case after Johnson stepped down, and concluded the McMichaels did not violate state law.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, claims in a lawsuit how Barnhill’s ruling delay caused a delay of 74 days for the arrest of Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan Jr.
The suit alleges there was a “deliberate effort to cover up Ahmaud’s murder,” alleging: “For nearly three months, Glynn County police officers, the chief of police and two prosecutors conspired to hide the circumstances surrounding Ahmaud’s death and to protect the men who murdered him.”
The suit seeks more than $1 million in damages. The suit also claims Johnson advising police on the charges were not necessary and had previously aided McMichael with weaseling out of legal situations in the past.
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