The parents of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia man fatally shot while jogging, spoke out on Friday following the recent indictment of former Georgia prosecutor, Jackie Johnson.
On Thursday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced Johnson would face a felony charge of violating her oath of office and a misdemeanor charge of hindering a law enforcement officer in relation to Arbery’s death. The 25-year-old was chased, shot and killed while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23, 2020.
“Every morning when getting up, I look at his picture and I’m hurting,” said Marcus Arbery during a virtual press conference on Friday with family attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt. “I’m struggling everyday as a father.” It’s been “devastating” as well, he added, for Ahmaud’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones and his siblings.
In May 2020, Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan were charged by the state with murder and other charges. They are scheduled to face trial in October.
In a separate federal case, USA v. McMichael et al – indictment CR221-022USA v. McMichael et al – indictment CR221-022USA v. McMichael et al – penalty cert CR221-022, the three Georgia men were charged in April with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping. Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing—and in Travis’s case, discharging—a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” said Attorney General Chris Carr in a statement. “While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice.”
Arbery’s death did not yield charges for at least two months, until cell phone video was released that Bryan, one of the accused, reportedly captured. It became public and generated outcry. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation later took over the case. The Prosecution Division of Carr’s office presented evidence to a Glynn County grand jury over several months.
“Former DA Johnson may not have pulled the trigger on the day Ahmaud was murdered, but she played a starring role in the cover-up,” Crump told the media. “Ahmaud was stalked, gunned down, and his killers were allowed to freely walk the streets for months. And why? Because DA Johnson wanted to protect one of Ahmaud’s killers: former police officer Greg McMichael,” he alleged.
Crump added, “While nothing will bring back Ahmaud, we can make sure his death was not in vain.” He said the indictment sends a “clear message” to those in law enforcement and within the justice system whose actions and ethics fail to meet the standards of their office. “Corruption, evil, racism, and hate have no place here.
Arbery’s mother expressed gratitude to Carr’s office for the decision to indict Johnson. “I’m very thankful… he kept in close contact with me,” said Cooper-Jones. Losing her son, she added, might bring about “change” in the state of Georgia.
Attorney Merritt agreed, calling the indictment a “historic decision.” “We hope it will send ripple effects throughout the legal community.”