Lawyer: Requests denied for full personnel file of former DA investigator involved in Ahmaud Arbery killing

Arbery family attorneys also want feds to take closer look at text message

Greg and Travis McMichael

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Wanda Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, said Wednesday that the three men charged in connection with her son’s death never reached out to her following the deadly shooting that happened in February.

Her family’s attorney said Glynn County Police and the District Attorney’s Office also won’t release the full employment file for the suspect in the murder, Greg McMichael, who used to work in the DA’s office.

Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, were seen on cell phone video confronting Arbery before he was shot three times with a shotgun.

Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery’s family said it was clear some neighbors were hunting for someone the day of the deadly shooting. He said Facebook messages between neighbors should be a part of the federal investigation into the case.

“This was absolutely a coordinated attempt,” said S. Lee Merritt, attorney for the family of Ahmaud Arbery.

Surveillance video from the day of the shooting shows one neighbor call police as Arbery goes into the open construction site in the neighborhood.

In police reports, Gregory McMichael told investigators he and son, Travis, “grabbed their guns” and followed Arbery through the neighborhood, because they suspected he was a burglar.

A preliminary hearing has been set for the three men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. News4Jax I-TEAM Investigator Kelly Wiley spoke to the family's attorney.

Arrest warrants show another neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., repeatedly attempted to confine and detain Arbery using his vehicle.

“We don’t know how they were communicating or what their mechanism was or how long this coordinating was taking place, but the reason you see the FBI and the GBI involved in the arrest of William Bryan looking into this is because they are looking at the greater conspiracy. I mean, there was aforethought that went into Ahmaud Arbery’s murder,” Merritt said.

Arbery’s death sparked outrage across the country. Jones said her life will never be the same.

“What was very disturbing is one Saturday morning I was going to visit the memorial site and I saw the McMichaels get in their boat and get on the river. I mean they were living their lives like they hadn’t even taken a life. At that point it really began to feel very, very unfair,” Jones said.

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and Bryan are all in jail, facing felony murder charges. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for next Thursday for all three men.

Wanda Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, said Wednesday that the three men charged in connection with her son’s death never reached out to her following the deadly shooting that happened in February.

Attorneys for Arbery’s family said attempts to request the complete public personnel file for former DA investigator Gregory McMichael have been denied.

“I can say the Glynn County PD, as well as the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office are taking extraordinary measures to ensure that his file is not completely released yet,” Merritt said. “We have filed open records requests, FOIA, trying to get a copy of his file so we can do an appropriate dig into one of the key men involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery and those requests have been denied."

Mark Spaulding with the Brunswick District Attorney said he believed the complete personnel file has been released, but added that he is checking for missing components of the file.

The attorney also clarified the FBI’s involvement in the Arbery case, saying the two agencies are working together in this case.

They are looking into hate crime charges and were already in Glynn County investigating corruption within the Glynn County Police Department and District Attorneys office before this case, according to the family’s attorneys.

Attorneys want feds to take closer look at text message

Attorneys for the Arbery family also want the feds to take a closer look at a text message from a Glynn County officer enlisting Gregory McMichael to help the owner of the property where a house was under construction who was complaining to police of trespassers seen on his security cameras.

A photo shows Officer Robert Rash texted the owner of the under-construction home in December, telling him to contact the elder McMichael if he saw any “action” on his surveillance camera.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said this month, that while ill-advised, the text message may not rise to the level of criminal activity.

“Sometimes things happen in a case where perhaps acts were foolish or perhaps acts are something that, socially speaking, we frown upon. (It) doesn’t mean they’re criminal,” Reynolds said.

Glynn County government said in an email that Rash was still an active employee. Glynn County didn’t answer whether he faced any kind of reprimand or if he was on administrative leave.

In a Facebook Live interview, Glynn County Commissioner J. Peter Murphy said the GBI was “handling it" and that officers don’t have the power to deputize civilians.

“We know it was a text message ... that probably set it into motion the events that caused the death of Ahmaud Arbery,” Merritt said. “If nothing else, he should be fired at the very least.”

News4Jax has attempted to reach out to Rash and attempted to get additional information about the text message. As of Wednesday evening, we had not received an answer on any administrative action following the text.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.