After months of silence, officials in the Georgia county where 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed are offering their own explanation for the delayed arrest of the retired county investigator and his son.
In a statement, Glynn County’s Public Information Officer Matthew Kent said the day of the shooting that Glynn County police officers sought legal advice from the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office on possible charges for Travis and Gregory McMichael. It’s the same office where Gregory McMichael was employed as an investigator for more than 20 years.
“At that point, the DA’s office became involved in the investigation. The DA’s office advised that there needed to be further follow up and the detectives would be contacted the following day by the DA from the Waycross Judicial Circuit. The McMichaels were deemed not to be flight risks and officers were advised by the DA’s office that no arrests were necessary at the time,” said Kent in a statement.
The statement comes a day after District Attorney Jackie Johnson denied blocking the arrests of her former investigator and his son, after claims were made by a county commissioner.
In a statement sent to News4Jax Friday, a spokesperson for her office said: “At no time on February 23, 2020, did District Attorney Jackie Johnson have any conversation with any Glynn County police officer about this case. Further, no Assistant District Attorney in the office directed any Glynn County police officer not to make an arrest.”
The Attorney General in Georgia said he is now looking into how the Arbery case was handled.
“The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers. We need to know exactly what happened, and we will be working to find those answers,” said Attorney General Chris Carr.
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The day after the shooting, detectives with the Glynn County Police Department met with the District Attorney from the Waycross Judicial Circuit, according to Glynn County officials and a letter from District Attorney George Barnhill.
Barnhill told detectives the deadly shooting was a “justifiable homicide,” according to the statement from Glynn County officials.
In a letter to Glynn County Police Captain Tom Jump, Barnhill recused himself, but also repeated his judgement saying, “The autopsy supports the initial opinion we gave you on Feb. 24th, 2020, at the briefing room in the Glynn County Police Department after reviewing the evidence you had at that time. We do not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties.”
Two months later, the video showing the deadly shooting was leaked to Brunswick radio station 98.7 FM WGIG. Days later, the third district attorney to take on the case, Tom Durden, requested state investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigate the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
36 hours into it’s investigation the GBI arrested Travis and Gregory McMichael on felony murder and aggravated assault charges.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said it’s agency found there was “more than sufficient cause for murder in this case."