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Georgia AG asks GBI to probe handling of Ahmaud Arbery murder case

The killing of Ahmaud Arbery in the Brunswick area has reignited the contentious national debate about race and law enforcement and thrust Georgia’s justice system into the spotlight.
The killing of Ahmaud Arbery in the Brunswick area has reignited the contentious national debate about race and law enforcement and thrust Georgia’s justice system into the spotlight.

Carr has also asked U.S. Justice Department to investigate

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe the actions of a pair of district attorneys who previously handled the Ahmaud Arbery murder case.

“When a district attorney is unable to take on a case due to a conflict, our office must appoint another prosecutor to handle the case,” Carr said Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, many questions and concerns have arisen regarding, among other things, the communications between and actions taken by the District Attorneys of the Brunswick and Waycross Circuits. As a result, we have requested the GBI to review in order to determine whether the process was undermined in any way.”

Carr is alleging the state was kept in the dark by Jackie Johnson, district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, and Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill. Last month, Barnhill wrote there was insufficient probable cause to charge two suspects in the case with murder. Johnson has disputed claims from two Glynn County commissioners who say her office stopped police officers from arresting those suspects on the day Arbery was shot to death.

Johnson and Barnhill could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday morning.

Two Glynn County commissioners have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Johnson's office stopped the Glynn County Police Department from making arrests immediately after the shooting.

“They were told not to make the arrest,” Peter Murphy said.“

She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael,” Allen Booker said.

Greg McMichael, now retired, once worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office. He is one of two men charged in the fatal shooting.

Johnson disputes the allegations in a recently released statement.

Johnson said these accusations were false and “an attempt to make excuses and ignore the problems at the Glynn County Police Department, for which they are ultimately responsible.”

She discussed the case on Big Dog County, a Jesup radio station:

The racially charged case has thrust Georgia’s justice system into the spotlight. Arbery, 25, was black, and suspects Gregory, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, are white. Arbery’s family said he liked to jog in the Brunswick area where he was shot. One of McMichaels who confronted him that day told police they pursued him because they thought he had been involved in earlier neighborhood break-ins. On Thursday, the GBI arrested the McMichaels and charged them each with murder and aggravated assault.

Over the weekend, Carr asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the handling of the case, focusing in part on discussions between the prosecutors from the state's Brunswick and Waycross judicial districts. On Monday, the federal agency announced on Twitter that it is weighing whether to pursue federal hate crime charges in the Arbery case.

“We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crime charges are appropriate,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Twitter. “In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation.”