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Former district lawyer arrested after indictment in reference to Ahmaud Arbery investigation

By Martin Savidge and Angela Barajas, CNN

A former Georgia prosecutor was charged after allegedly meddling in the arrest of a man who participated in the 2020 shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

Former Braunschweig prosecutor Jackie Johnson has been charged with violating her oath as an officer and obstructing a police officer.

Johnson was arrested Wednesday morning and released on bail for $ 10,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

Both charges are related to Johnson’s alleged actions related to the investigation into the fatal shooting of Arbery while jogging through a subdivision of Glynn County on February 23, 2020, according to the indictment.

Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and his neighbor William Bryan are charged with murder in connection with Arbery’s death. The three pleaded not guilty.

During a virtual press conference on Friday, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said Johnson should be serving a prison sentence.

“She didn’t pull the trigger, but she needs to be held accountable just like the three guys who did this to Ahmaud,” said Cooper-Jones.

Johnson – on the day of the shooting – prevented two Glynn County police officers from performing their duties “by ordering that Travis McMichael should not be arrested, contrary to the laws of that state, good order, peace and dignity. “Read the indictment.

Johnson is also charged with violating her prosecutor’s oath by “showing favor and affection for Greg McMichael during the investigation,” the indictment states.

CNN tried reaching Johnson for comment. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and defended her actions, including in an interview with a local radio station in Jesup in May 2020, according to CNN subsidiary WSB.

“Our office is committed to ensuring that those entrusted with the service are ethically and honestly performing their duties,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.

“Although an indictment was filed today, our file is not closed and we will continue the investigation to seek justice,” said Carr.

The charge of violation of the oath of office is a crime punishable by imprisonment of 1 to 5 years. The allegation of obstruction and obstruction of a law enforcement officer is an offense that lasts up to 12 months.

At the press conference, Arbery’s family and lawyers applauded the indictment and praised Carr’s investigation.

“We have set a precedent that in addition to the tragedies where we see far too many of our children being taken from us without responsibility, prosecutors must now take responsibility for the injustices,” said family attorney Ben Crump.

The indictment also states that Johnson “enlisted the assistance of District Attorney George E. Barnhill of Waycross Judicial Circuit” and, after withdrawing herself, allegedly recommended that Barnhill take over the prosecution without disclosing that she had sought his help on the case.

Johnson withdrew from the Arbery investigation shortly after the shooting, referring to Gregory McMichael’s 20-year tenure as an investigator with the Braunschweig public prosecutor.

Barnhill later withdrew from the case, citing a link to one of the defendants.

At pre-trial hearings, prosecutors said Gregory McMichael called Johnson on the day of the shooting and left a voicemail. It’s not clear if Johnson responded.

“Jackie, this is Greg,” you can hear the older McMichael say on voicemail. “Could you call me asap? My (inaudible) and I were involved in a shoot and I need advice right away. Could you call me asap, please? Thanks very much. Goodbye. “

Johnson lost re-election for her district attorney last November. The Arbery investigation was finally called to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office two months after the shooting after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was involved.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s family, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday that the indictment was a relief to the family who had been “left in the dark” for months after the shooting.

“For us, this means first of all a signal to other prosecutors that they themselves can face the consequences if they fail to present the evidence, if they somehow cooperate or put their finger on the scales,” said Merritt.

At the press conference, Cooper-Jones said she was “very grateful for the way things are going.”

“But at the end of each day, Ahmad never comes home.”

The CNN Wire
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