BREAKING NEWS

Arbery family, supporters set sights on former Brunswick DA after hate crimes verdicts

The former Brunswick District Attorney who told police not to arrest Ahmaud Arbery’s killers is facing prison time herself because of how she’s accused of handling the case.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The former Brunswick District Attorney who told police not to arrest Ahmaud Arbery’s killers is facing prison time herself because of how she’s accused of handling the case.

Jackie Johnson was indicted in September. She’s charged with violating her oath as a public officer and obstructing police.

It’s been almost seven months since Johnson turned herself in at the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, and as of Tuesday afternoon, a court clerk told News4JAX nothing has been filed since she was charged.

The clerk said since the indictment, nothing has been scheduled, not even her initial appearance.

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No charges were filed against Travis and Greg McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan for two months after they pursued Arbery to his death on Feb. 23, 2020. It was only after Greg McMichael’s attorney released the video shot by Bryan that the GBI took over and arrested the three men.

Since then, they have been convicted on murder charges in state court and Tuesday were convicted of hate crime charges in federal court.

“The way Ahmad left here, I knew that we would get victory on the state level and in the federal level. I knew that from day one,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said after the federal verdicts were read on Tuesday.

But it could have all been swept under the rug.

Johnson, the now-former Brunswick DA, is accused off “showing favor and affection” to Greg McMichael, who had once worked in her office. She’s also accused of directing officers not to arrest Travis McMichael, Greg’s adult son, who fired the shots that killed Arbery.

“I look at this (hate crimes verdict) as a milestone, another challenge that we’ve overcome,” Cooper-Jones said. “We still have the DA we have to deal with as well, so we’re not done.”

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump also said there’s still work to be done.

“It’s this incestuous culture between police officers and prosecutors that let far too many Black people in America be unjustly killed,” Crump said on the federal courthouse steps Tuesday in Brunswick. “And then they try to cover everything up and so the cover-up is having blood on Jackie Johnson’s hands as well.”

Cooper-Jones said Tuesday she felt betrayed again at the federal level when prosecutions urged the judge to accept a plea deal for the defendants rather than take the case to trial. The judge rejected the plea deal, and the jury convicted all three of federal hate crimes.

“We got a victory today, but there’s so many families out there that don’t get victories because of the people we have fighting for us,” Cooper-Jones said.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked Tuesday about Cooper-Jones’ concerns over the plea agreement during a news conference after the verdicts were announced.

“I cannot imagine the pain a mother feels to have her son run down and then gunned down while taking a jog on a public street,” Garland responded. “My heart goes out to her and the family. That’s really all I can say about this.”

Johnson faces up to six years in prison if convicted.


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I-TEAM and general assignment reporter