The former prosecutor accused with wrongdoing in the Ahmaud Arbery case was booked and released from a Georgia prison on Wednesday.
Former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson brought herself in at the Glynn County prison on Wednesday morning, according to county Undersheriff Ron Corbett. According to jail records, she was released on her own recognizance, which means she did not have to pay a monetary bail.
Johnson, 49, was charged last week by a grand jury on a felony charge of breaching her oath of office and a misdemeanor count of hindering police. When three white men tracked and fatally shot Arbery last year, Johnson was the area’s top prosecutor. According to the indictment, she exploited her position to prevent police from making charges in the death of a 25-year-old Black man.
Officials at the jail and the Glynn County Superior Court clerk’s office stated she did not have a counsel listed in their records.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Greg McMichael and his grown son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup vehicle after seeing Arbery running in their area just outside the coastal city of Brunswick, approximately 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Savannah.
William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor, joined the pursuit and captured cellphone footage showing Travis McMichael killing Arbery at close range with a shotgun. Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense after Greg McMichael informed police they suspected him of being a burglar.
Prosecutors claim Arbery was unarmed and carrying no stolen goods when he was killed.
The McMichaels and Bryan were not charged in the death for more than two months, after the video was released online and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation. All three men are now expected to face trial on murder charges this autumn.
#AhmaudArbery murder rebuttal what Dunikoski is not allowed to say, because of the former DA Johnson cover up case, Greg McMichael also called the corrupt DA from crime scene. pic.twitter.com/RIXsAMagYg
— BevMarie (@evenbev) November 23, 2021
Greg McMichael served as an investigator in the district attorney’s office for Johnson until retiring in 2019. According to phone records shown in court, he contacted Johnson and left her a message shortly after the incident.
Johnson has previously denied any impropriety, stating that her office was promptly recused from the matter due to its ties with Greg McMichael.
My God. Infuriating yet predictable hate. In her closing argument, an attorney for white supremacist Greg McMichael says, “Ahmaud Arbery is not the victim, in his khaki shorts, with no socks, to cover his long dirty toenails.”
Disgusting racism & bigotry.pic.twitter.com/Sagml9HKvz
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) November 23, 2021
Johnson is being prosecuted by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office. Carr requested the misconduct probe last year, claiming that the initial outside prosecutor he hired to handle the case was nominated by Johnson, who never revealed that she had previously asked that prosecutor to counsel police in the immediate aftermath of Arbery’s death.
Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill eventually recused himself, but not before writing a letter to Glynn police stating that he considered Arbery’s killing was justifiable.
Pray this McMichaels verdict gives Ahmaud Arbery’s family some peace. However, remember that the DA initially instructed police not to charge them because Greg McMichael worked with the DA. They were arrested 2 days after the video went viral — 74 days after Arbery was murdered.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 24, 2021
Johnson was defeated for reelection last year, blaming her failure on the issue surrounding Arbery’s death.
The footage of Ahmaud Arbery’s shotgun death was startling proof that catapulted the Black man’s murder into the public attention.
In the closing arguments, Greg McMichael's defense attorney Laura Hogue blamed Ahmaud Arbery for his own death. They're attempting to turn an innocent victim into a “recurring nighttime intruder.” The comments Hogue made were meant to devalue Ahmaud's life. #McMichaelBryanTrial
— Lance Cooper (@lmauricecpr) November 22, 2021
However, the murder convictions of the three white men who pursued him may have been achieved as much by their own statements to police on the day of the killing.
Greg McMichael, who was in the bed of a pickup truck when his son murdered Arbery, told authorities that the Black guy was “trapped like a rat” and that he threatened Arbery, “Stop, or I’ll blow your f—-ing head off!”
Greg McMichael, his son, and the other asshole can now rot in prison for a long time. Fuck those racist murderers.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) November 24, 2021
Statements like these helped prosecutors to put the brief footage in perspective, which didn’t show the full shooting and just a portion of the five minutes in which the guys followed Arbery.
“It’s those statements that screwed the defense more than the video. If they had never talked to police and they said we saw him taking something from the property and running — there’s an OK shot the jury might have acquitted them,” said appellate attorney Andrew Fleischman, who followed the trial from Atlanta.
What they said:
The shooter, Travis McMichael, his dad, Greg McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan all spoke extensively and candidly with Glynn County investigators just hours after Arbery was killed in their Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood in February 2020.
They told cops they weren’t sure what Arbery had done wrong, which would later deal a major damage to their claim that they were performing a citizen’s arrest.
My position, contrary to most media and non-media discussions isn't whether Ahmaud Arbery's homicide jury are all white. It's whether the jury will be independent minded and united, being humans, follow the law, evidence and without bias reach conclusion based on facts. pic.twitter.com/KAxGqygOwn
— Ben Ikari (@MagnusBenson1) November 4, 2021
The citizen’s arrest legislation, which legislators substantially repealed following Arbery’s death, required a person to observe or have direct knowledge of a criminal being committed or have reasonable suspicion that someone is fleeing a felony to warrant a citizen’s arrest.
“I don’t think the guy has actually stolen anything out of there, or if he did it was early in the process. But he keeps going back over and over again to this damn house,” Greg McMichael said, according to a transcript of the interview that Glynn County police Sgt. Roderic Nohilly read in court.
This is Jackie Johnson. She tried to cover up the murder of Ahmaud Arbery when she was a Georgia prosecutor. Had she succeeded, the trial never would have happened, and 3 murderers would be free. She has been indicted for obstruction of justice. pic.twitter.com/pxCg1b3jr5
— Duty To Warn 🔉 (@duty2warn) November 26, 2021
Bryan was standing on his front porch when he saw Arbery running by with the McMichaels’ vehicle close behind. He told cops he didn’t recognize any of them or know what caused the pursuit, but he still joined in, shouting, “Y’all got him?”
Bryan told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that he wanted to photograph Arbery to show authorities but couldn’t think of any offenses Arbery had done.
Adam Serwer: "To say the system worked in this case is like saying your car made it home—after your entire family had to get out and push it miles down a dirt road." https://t.co/TXuVHFh9ZF
— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) November 25, 2021
“I figured he had done something wrong,” Bryan said. “I didn’t know for sure.”
The remarks enabled prosecutor Linda Dunikoski to dissect the defense’s claims systematically.
“Nobody was talking about a citizen’s arrest. And I don’t mean using the magic words ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I mean no one’s saying, ‘We saw the guy commit a burglary and we were going to hold on to him so we could turn him over to police because he committed this crime,’” Atlanta defense attorney Page Pate said.