Days after the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the Ahmaud Arbery case, Georgia’s attorney general Chris Carr has called for a federal investigation of the tragic incident to achieve maximum transparency.
“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Chris Carr said in a press release, as reported by CNN. “The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”
On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery was seen running through a neighborhood in Satilla Shores, Georgia, where residents reportedly saw him enter a house that was currently under construction. Recently released surveillance cam footage shows Arbery entering the house and observing the area for a few minutes before leaving with nothing in his possession. During this time, a 911 call was made alerting the police to Arbery’s presence.
According to Gregory McMichael, he spotted Arbery running down the street and thought he resembled a man shown committing a previous burglary on a surveillance cam. Believing that Arbery may be armed and dangerous, Gregory and his son Travis then grabbed their guns, hopped into a pickup truck, and formed a roadblock to enact a “citizens arrest” until the police arrived.
In a recently released video that went viral, Arbery is seen running up the road, where he encounters Travis McMichael. Arbery was shot and killed, McMichael claims, while wrestling with Travis for his shotgun.
Last week, the McMichaels were arrested for aggravated assault and murder after two prosecutors recused themselves. Since the arrest occurred a full two months after the shooting, sparking a public outcry, the debate has now centered on if local law enforcement agencies had any implicit bias due to the fact that Gregory McMichael previously worked as a district attorney investigator and police detective.
CNN provided a timeline of the prosecutors and their subsequent recusals:
Since the shooting, the case has landed on the desks of three prosecutors. The first two recused themselves because of their connections to Gregory McMichael.
Last week, the current prosecutor, District Attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit Tom Durden, said he would bring the case to a grand jury after coronavirus restrictions lifted.
The first prosecutor, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself, citing Gregory McMichael’s position as a former investigator for the office. She has denied allegations by local officials that she told police not to make an arrest.
A second prosecutor, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, recused himself because his son worked in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit DA’s office and once worked with Gregory McMichael in a prior prosecution of Arbery, he wrote in a letter to Carr’s office April 7.
In a separate letter to police, Barnhill wrote that he believed the McMichaels were within their rights to execute a citizen’s arrest of Arbery, adding that Travis McMichael would have been allowed to use “deadly force” to protect himself as he and Arbery struggled over the shotgun.
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has said that residents of his state “deserve answers” in the shooting.
“Earlier this week, I watched the video depicting Mr. Arbery’s last moments alive. I can tell you it’s absolutely horrific,” Kemp said. “In these moments, I’d ask you to continue to pray for his loved ones, the local community, and our state.”
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