Former Georgia police officer Gregory McMichael, one of the men charged in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery reportedly had had a connection to Ahmaud stemming from years prior to his fatal shooting.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill confirmed former Georgia police officer Gregory McMichael was involved “with the previous prosecution” of Arbery. The DA reportedly revealed this information in a letter recusing himself from the case. Barnhill claimed he had learned his son—a prosecutor in the Brunswick DA’s office—investigated Arbery along with Gregory McMichael, who was working as an investigator with the Brunswick DA’s office. The AJC reports Barnhill sent his recusal letter “three to four weeks” after learning about his son and Gregory McMichael’s ties to Arbery.
Per the publication:
“[Barnhill] didn’t say why he waited so long to recuse himself but claimed “a local ‘rabble rouser’ has taken up this cause and begun publishing wild and factually incorrect and legally wrong accusations on Facebook and other social media formats calling for marches and physical affronts be made against the McMichaels at their homes, and my son’s home in Brunswick etc.”
While in high school, Arbery reportedly received five years’ probation after he was charged with taking a weapon to campus and obstructing a law enforcement officer. In 2018, he was reportedly convicted of shoplifting and violating his probation.
According to AJC, Barnhill referenced the Arbery family’s alleged criminal history in his recusal letter, writing: “This family are not strangers to the local criminal justice system. From best we can tell, Ahmaud’s older brother has gone to prison in the past and is currently in the Glynn jail, without bond, awaiting new felony prosecution. It also appears a cousin has been prosecuted by DA Johnson’s office.”
Lee Merritt, the attorney representing Arbery’s family, questioned why this information was included in Barnhill’s letter.
“This speaks to the wider issue of mass incarceration,” Merritt said. “If black people have any kind of criminal record somehow that justifies their murder.”
Gregory McMichael and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, were arrested Friday for the Feb. 23 shooting of Ahmaud while he was jogging in a Georgia neighborhood. The two men chased Ahmaud down with weapons before gunning him down.
Georgia officials initially refused to charge or arrest the McMichaels, claiming the men had acted under the state’s self-defense and citizens arrest statutes. However, after footage of the incident surfaced online Atlantic Judicial Circuit DA Tom Durden recommended the case be sent to a grand jury.