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Glynn County Fires Back After DA Jackie Johnson Blames PD for Arbery Case Failures

The Glynn County Board of Commissioners fired back at District Attorney Jackie Johnson Saturday on behalf of the county in response to a press release issued late Friday night in which the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney placed blame on the Glynn County Police Department for the breakdowns in the Ahmaud Arbery case. 

The Glynn County Board of Commissioners issued a statement Saturday on behalf of the county in response to a press release issued late Friday night in which Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson placed blame on the Glynn County Police Department for the breakdowns in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Johnson has come under fire in recent days after a leaked video showing the moments leading up to the February 23rd fatal shooting of Amaud Arbery vent viral. A heightened level of media coverage has highlighted the lag time between Johnson’s recusal from the case – due to the fact that Greg McMichael was employed by her office as an investigator – and the Glynn County Police Department’s supposed desire to immediately arrest both Travis and Greg McMichael in the aftermath of the shooting.

But Friday evening, Johnson placed blame on the police department and denied claims by two Glynn County Commissioners that anyone in her office told investigators not to make an arrest of the McMichaels – a statement in contradiction to at least three Glynn County Police Department employees privy to the conversation.

Johnson’s statement is below:

“Commissioners Murphy and Booker have chosen to make baseless and false accusations against District Attorney Jackie Johnson in an attempt to make excuses and ignore the problems at the Glynn County Police Department, for which they are ultimately responsible. Acting Police Chief Jay Wiggins has indicated that it was a mistake that then Police Chief John Powell did not immediately call in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate the case.

As evidenced by the events of this week, the GBI was able to investigate, make a probable cause determination, and make arrests within two days of receiving the case. That is what a law enforcement agency does, and if the Glynn County Police Department is unable to make a probable cause determination on its own, why do we have a Police Department?

Under Georgia law, the District Attorney has no arrest powers. Rather it is the duty and obligation of the law enforcement officer to determine probable cause for arrest. The District Attorney is available to advise on the law. Our District Attorney’s office’s willingness to be available to advise law enforcement officers on matters of law is now being used by the Glynn County Police Department as an excuse to pass the buck and fail to act.

When two Assistant District Attorneys were contacted by the Glynn County Police Department on February 23, 2020, they immediately cited a conflict of interest and stated our office could not be involved. Our office offered to facilitate getting assistance from another District Attorney’s office.

At no time on February 23, 2020, did District Attorney Jackie Johnson have any conversation with any Glynn County police officer about this case. Further, no Assistant District Attorney in the office directed any Glynn County police officer not to make an arrest.

While our office did assist in putting the Glynn County Police Department in contact with the District Attorney in the Waycross Circuit, we did not direct his actions or appoint him to the case. Rather, that was done by the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Georgia. Our office made the Attorney General aware of our conflict and recusal by letter on February 25, 2020.”

Around noon on Saturday, Glynn County issued its own statement with a more comprehensive timeline of the events:

On Sunday, February 23, 2020, two calls were received at the Glynn-Brunswick 911 Center between 1:08pm and 1:15pm involving activity that was reported as suspicious in the Satilla Shores neighborhood located off US-17 in Glynn County. The Glynn County Police Department responded to the calls. Gun shots were heard by the responding officer upon arrival to the Satilla Shores neighborhood. Shortly thereafter, the location of the gun shots was identified, and an ambulance was called. The Glynn County Police Department immediately began investigative activities. Detectives arrived on the scene at approximately 1:45pm.

Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael were brought to Glynn County Police Headquarters for questioning at approximately 3:30pm on February 23rd. Glynn County Police Officers sought the legal advice of the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office in reference to possible charges. At that point, the DA’s office became involved in the investigation. The DA’s office advised that there needed to be further follow up and the detectives would be contacted the following day by the DA from the Waycross Judicial Circuit. The McMichaels were deemed not to be flight risks and officers were advised by the DA’s office that no arrests were necessary at the time. Detectives met with DA George Barnhill, Sr. of the Waycross Judicial Circuit the following day and reviewed their findings with him. DA Barnhill, Sr. advised detectives before noon on February, 24th that the act was justifiable homicide and for detectives to continue their investigation and provide him with lab reports and any additional pertinent information. The autopsy results were received by the Glynn County Police Department on April 1st and immediately forwarded to DA Barnhill, Sr.

Given the familial relationship of DA George Barnhill, Sr. and an Assistant District Attorney in the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office, the family of Ahmaud Arbery requested that DA Barnhill, Sr. be removed from the case. At this point, DA Barnhill, Sr. recused himself from the case and contacted the Georgia Attorney General’s office to seek assistance in finding another DA to handle the further “evaluation for prosecution,” as he stated in his April 3rd letter to Glynn County Police Captain Tom Jump. In this letter, DA Barnhill, Sr. notes, “I appreciate there is immediate pressure on your department as to the issue of “arrest.”” DA Barnhill, Sr.’s letter makes five points regarding the case and concludes that there was insufficient probable cause to issue arrest warrants at that time. In consultation with the Georgia Attorney General’s office, the case was transferred to DA Tom Durden’s Office of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit.

When the Glynn County Police Department had jurisdiction over the case, it was ultimately decided not to seek out the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to review the case given that none of the officers involved in the case were employed with the Police Department, from 1982 to 1989, when Greg McMichael was employed by the department and the officers involved in the case had little to no contact with Mr. McMichael when he was employed by the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office.

From the beginning, the Glynn County Police Department has sought justice in this case. Glynn County followed the direction of DA Barnhill, Sr., and officers were advised not to publicly release information in reference to the case that could impact future prosecution.

In the press conference held by the GBI following the arrest of the McMichaels, it was stated that the Glynn County Police Department had conducted a thorough and good investigation into the case. The Police Department stands ready to further assist the GBI and DA Tom Durden into the investigation and court proceedings that will follow. The Police Department has continued to be advised not to release any information regarding the case other than to law enforcement and judicial agencies as we await the answers that many in the community and the nation are seeking in this case.

Glynn County Commission Chairman Mike Browning stated on Thursday, May 7th:

“Our hearts go out to the family of Ahmaud Arbery for the tragic loss they have experienced. This has impacted them more than we can ever comprehend. This heavy issue has touched so many of us both locally and nationally and caused us to pause and think deeply about this family and our own families. We have to believe that the justice system will do what it is designed to do and provide answers to the many unanswered questions. It is in the hands of the proper authorities and we stand by ready to support Tom Durden, the District Attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as they conduct investigations into this case.

Until we get answers to the many unanswered questions, I am hopeful that we can come together as a community to deal with this situation with peace and brotherhood, rather than hate and violence which can only make a terrible situation worse. Again, we ask prayers for this family and this community as a whole as this case moves its way through the justice system.”

Both Travis and Greg McMichael were arrested by the GBI on Thursday.

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Avatar

    NELDA SMITH

    May 9, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    WHAT A CLOWN SHOW ! I HOPE AMAUD ARBERY’S FAMILY SUES THE DA’S OFFICE, THE POLICE DEPT. AND EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THIS MURDEROUS INJUSTICE AND WINS ! THE POLICE DEPT. ALONG WITH THE D.A.’S OFFICE BELONG IN JAIL !

    • Avatar

      Jack

      May 10, 2020 at 8:04 pm

      I totally agreed. What a bunch of crooks!

      • Avatar

        Sharon Phillips

        May 11, 2020 at 6:26 pm

        TOUCHÉ! Unconscionable bastards!

    • Avatar

      Sharon Phillips

      May 11, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      I honestly hope that this investigation into Glynn Co. Police Department reaches the truth and spotlights the DAs office for the Katie Kettles Sasser murder by her estranged husband and cop, Robert Cory Sasser just 3 years ago. This police department has blood on their heinous hands for NOT arresting one of their own before Katie was brutally gunned down with her friend in Macintosh County, Ga. Had those “pigs” done their job and arrested Sasser for stalking and terrifying Katie both at home and in public knowing full well she has a RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST HIM, she would be alive today and her orphaned son would have his beautiful mother.

      • Avatar

        Carlee

        May 23, 2020 at 7:52 am

        Wow i am so sorry that happened. It looks like there is a lot of corruption in this police force, and probably this area altogether. Hopefully this investigation leads them to reopen cases that this corrupt police force investigated. I bet a lot of wrongful arrests and plea deals have been made, illegal searches, cover-ups, etc. Any and every case that the alleged murderer was involved in needs to be reopened. It is scary to think that someone like that van be a detective in a local district attorney’s office

  2. Avatar

    Thomas Stafford

    May 9, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    There’s a song to every story , for you people ready to hang the da , here’s your song
    Men with broken hearts , you haven’t walk a mile in there shoes and if you had to could you be as good ?
    Probably not !!

    • Avatar

      Youareadumba$$

      May 11, 2020 at 11:42 am

      their* shoes…

    • Avatar

      Alex

      May 19, 2020 at 12:33 am

      I’d probably walk instead or driving to hunt someone down with a gun if that’s what your dumbass song is about.

    • Avatar

      michelle

      August 6, 2020 at 10:56 pm

      Thomas Stafford, you need to see a psychiatrist and get rid of all your guns NOW

  3. Avatar

    richard futrill

    May 9, 2020 at 7:24 pm

    great report and you will notice that the shooters at first were refered to as police officers i highly suspect that people should look at those police reports and pay real good attention to the date added spot ID like to know if the D/A or qho ever said this seemed like justifable homoside i would love to know if he is a former cop

    • Avatar

      Skip 2 Maloo

      June 18, 2020 at 12:42 am

      Richard. “Homoside”?!! Definitely on the side of the retards!!!

  4. Avatar

    ZZ

    May 10, 2020 at 9:32 am

    This woman should be lynched herself alongside her inbred buddies the McMichaels.

    • Avatar

      CP

      May 11, 2020 at 9:08 am

      or at least a good “citizens arrest”!

  5. Avatar

    James

    May 10, 2020 at 10:20 am

    The DA and the PD both could have made the arrest but they were too cowardly or racist to do it.

  6. Avatar

    Ted

    May 10, 2020 at 11:06 am

    RACISM and CORRUPTION are the cause of this failure to charge these killers (McMichaels) back in February.

  7. Avatar

    Marisol Velez

    May 10, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    God will expose everything that these racists have tried to hide. Now, someone will be upset with me for saying no one is safe from God’s judgment. Racism is still real and ppl are still rearing their kids in it.

  8. Avatar

    Mies Rohe

    May 10, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Jackie Johnson is not fit for continued public service. If you don’t like people from out-of-town in your business, bring justice swiftly. Until then, the whole world is watching and will be in your hair at the Florida Georgia Line.

    If Jackie Johnson wants peace let her resign now and pray no charges are brought against her. Prison is a tough place for an ex-DA.

    • Avatar

      Darl Biniaz

      June 24, 2020 at 5:21 pm

      She’s covered. And even though she comes off slimy, she did her job. The process is moving well, and at the end, these 3 fucktards will suffer mightily.

  9. Avatar

    Tiredofracist

    May 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Racist usually stick together until the heat comes down and then they turn on each other. The ONLY reason they are giving explanations is because we all saw the tape! They ALL worked in concert to cover this up….none of them are held harmless. Barnhill Sr. Was apart of the cover up too! I guess they NEVER imagined the curtain would fall on them. Jackie Johnson is HORRIBLE. The County Commissioners don’t get a pass either. What a CORRUPT little backwoods RACIST sesspool. I can only imagine the dirt they’ve done. You know that Barnhill Jr. Called his daddy and explained how this case needed to be covered up and he TRIED to do just that. He should be disbarred immediately! Racism is DEMONIC. How do they sleep at night?

  10. Avatar

    Georgia Girl

    May 10, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    All the lies and the cover up
    Trying to protect to murderers if I get in my car and run down everybody I see running by my house I’ll get the whole neighborhood it’s a shame you can’t run unless you are a suspect that’s premeditated I would have been In jail if I even get a gun for everybody that run by my house I will be stupid to think everyone is a suspect If everybody shoot people run by their house there won’t be nobody left if we all think that way

  11. Avatar

    Georgia Girl

    May 10, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation
    All the lies and the cover up
    Trying to protect to murderers if I get in my car and run down everybody I see running by my house I’ll get the whole neighborhood it’s a shame you can’t run unless you are a suspect that’s premeditated I would have been In jail if I even get a gun for everybody that run by my house I will be stupid to think everyone is a suspect If everybody shoot people run by their house there won’t be nobody left if we all think that way

  12. Avatar

    william wessels

    May 10, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    Hey Y’all over there in Georgia, Don’t know if ya heard about it or not, but the war is over. Gen’l Lee done surrendered. Ya can all go back home now if ya want to and get something to eat, maybe some clean clothes and maybe if you are lucky and she ain’t still mad at you, you might just get to sleep in a real bed. If you aren’t sure about it you can maybe ketch up to Gen’l Lee where they said he did the surrendering. Some courthouse somewhere or the other. Now shake hands and let me back to sleep, Quit fighting cause it all over.

  13. Avatar

    James Carpenter

    May 11, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    This KKK way of doing things is out dated and must be stopped the the days when you could kill a man like he was nomore than a wild animal should not be any longer allowed in our country murder is murder no excuse can be made to make it any different and God is watching you.

  14. Avatar

    Rebekah Vanderwerken

    May 12, 2020 at 6:37 am

    Hallo!

  15. Avatar

    Key

    May 12, 2020 at 10:41 am

    From what kitchen are these people crafting their insubstantial alibis? It is clear that the move to arrest was interrupted by favoritism. The officers involved who received the red light not to arrest from the parties in question should come forward and put an end to this hearsay. A crime has been committed here and it was clearly covered up, everyone involved should be arrested and questioned, not limited to the district attorney or any offices involved in covering up the crime.

    • Avatar

      Al

      May 12, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      Once the FEDS crawl up their as$es and spread out, the officers involved will likely sing a helluva tune that will go far beyond this case…At least that’s what I’m hoping for?

  16. Avatar

    Key

    May 12, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Also, it is clear that the district attorney [Jackie Johnson] had no authority to order an arrest or arrest powers, the question is, did she interfered and use her office and influence as a convenience to protect and shield the accused murderers.

  17. Avatar

    Dr Fred Hendrix

    June 3, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    The role District Attorneys George Barnhill and Jackie Johnson played in delaying justice for Mr. Ahmaud Arbery is undeniable. It is because of their inaction that Gregory and Travis McMichaels went for month without being arrested. I call for both District Attorneys to take responsibility and step down from office of District Attorney IMMEDIATELY. Our communities deserve to be protected not hunted down like prey, only to allow the murderers to walk away without any consequences.

  18. Avatar

    Darl Biniaz

    June 24, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Too much incest. And the humidity doesn’t help, I imagine.

  19. Avatar

    michelle

    August 6, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Anyone here actually from Brunswick (Im not but I want to see Jackie Johnson out of office) Keith Higgins is running against her. Check him out on Facebook

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