BRUNSWICK, Ga. – After the shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery caught on cellphone video and the 10-week delay in filing any charges while the case bounced between multiple jurisdictions, the first two prosecutors on the case are facing a state and federal investigations.
A growing number of elected officials, including 68 members of Congress, are calling for independent investigations into Glynn County police and the Brunswick and Waycross district attorneys. And a national group of district attorneys has criticized Waycross DA George Barnhill for suggesting that the father and son involved in Arbery’s shooting death not be arrested even after he said he should not handle the case.
Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson last told News4Jax she welcomed the full transparency an investigation will bring.
A letter to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division written by U.S. Sen Corey Booker (D-New Jersey) and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, (D-Massachusetts) and signed by dozens of others requested an federal investigation.
“It’s deeply disturbing that until the public release of a video depicting the heinous incident – a video that the prosecuting attorneys office had in its possession for months – no significant actions were taken to hold the men involved accountable," the letter reads.
Georgia’s attorney general has already requested a federal investigation into the actions of the first two prosecutors who touched the case.
The National District Attorney Association was critical of Barnhill, who wrote a letter to Glynn County police citing his conflict in the case, but then advised police not to arrest Gregory and Travis McMichael, the father and son seen on cellphone video confronting Arbery.
“The problem is once you recuse yourself … once you say ‘I can not objectively handle this case,’ you have to stop. You cannot seek to influence the case in any way,” wrote association President Duffie Stone. “You can’t give legal advice to law enforcement. You should not give your opinion ... publicly or privately.”
The conflict Barnhill cited was his son, who, according to him, worked alongside Greg McMichael in the Brunswick District Attorneys Office. One of the cases his son worked on involved Arbery, according to his letter.
Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr also said Barnhill also didn’t disclose the conflict of interest to his office until weeks later.
Barnhill said that once the case is closed all the information will be available for public review.
“It would be inappropriate for me to release any information or to comment on the facts in any way in a open, public forum," Barnhill told News4Jax.