Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case amid allegations that a local prosecutor may have prevented an arrest.
As WTOC reported, the Georgia attorney general’s office released a statement on Sunday asking the Justice Department to help in investigating potential communication between the District Attorney of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit and the Office of the District Attorney of the Waycross Judicial Circuit regarding the 25-year-old’s killing and potential arrests.
“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Carr said. “The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”
Arbery was shot to death in February, and video released last week showed him running down a street when he encountered a stopped pickup truck with a father and son waiting, Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34. Video showed a scuffle followed by a series of gunshots that left the unarmed man dead.
The men claimed that they were acting in self-defense, saying that Arbery had attacked them.
The case drew controversy for the weeks that passed without an arrest of either man, and for a previous relationship between the elder McMichael and the local district attorney’s office, where he had worked as an investigator. Two different district attorneys recused themselves from the case, citing relationships with Gregory McMichael.
As The Inquistir reported, a pair of local lawmakers claimed that District Attorney Jackie Johnson had told the investigating police officers not to make an arrest in the case. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, Glynn County commissioner Peter Murphy said that he spoke to members of the police department and learned that police on the scene believed they had probable cause to make an arrest, but Johnson’s office told them not to.
Fellow Glynn County commissioner Allen Booker made a similar claim.
“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,” said Booker, who noted that he talked to police officers. “She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”
Johnson’s office denied the allegations, saying that acting Police Chief Jay Wiggins believed it was a mistake of the former chief, John Powell, to not immediately ask the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate Arbery’s shooting.
The GBI investigated the pair this week and took over the case, placing both men under arrest.