The murder of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23 gained national attention after video of his death went viral. As the world watched, and his loved ones waited for answers, a miscarriage of justice was unfolding.
Jackie Johnson, the former district attorney was one of the first people called on by police to assist in the investigation of Arbery’s murder by a former police officer and his son.
It took Johnson three days to report a conflict of interest in the case. She knew Gregory McMichael, one of the suspects in the murder. What she did in those three days drew criticism nationally and remains under active investigation, according to the Washington Post.
Johnson failed to recuse herself from the case, even though she knew McMichael who previously worked as an investigator in the DA’s office. Rather than call the state’s attorney general, Johnson passed the case to a colleague, District Attorney George Barnill, from a neighboring town.
Barnill, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, met with police and decided Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael did not commit a crime, citing a state self-defense law.
Two months after Arbery’s murder, Barnill recused himself because his son had worked with Gregory McMichael in Jackie Johnson’s office.
Weeks dragged on, and eventually the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case. Gregory and Travis McMichael were finally charged with murder and aggravated assault on May 7.
William Bryan, Jr., the person who filmed the murder, also faced charges for felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The web of injustice in this case motivated voters in Brunswick, Georgia to oust Johnson from office. Keith Higgins won the seat after receiving 66% of the vote on Tuesday (November 3), according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. highlighting the importance of local elections.
Dwight Jordan, a local educator and activist who organized voters for Higgins told the Washington Post in October, "We overlook our local races. We can't afford to do that anymore."
In a statement on Facebook, Higgins said, “I look forward to working with the community and building back the faith in our legal system.”
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