Renewed call for removal of 2 prosecutors initially involved in Arbery case

Local News

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s been seven months since the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, but advocates continue to call for the removal of two area prosecutors who originally had some involvement in the investigation.

Three men were ultimately arrested for the death of Arbery, who died after being chased by the men as he was jogging through their neighborhood. In May, the office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said it would investigate the actions of District Attorney Jackie Johnson of the Brunswick Judicial District and George Barnhill of the Waycross Judicial District.

Tuesday, advocates and family members of Arbery said they believe enough time has passed for the investigation to be completed — and called for the removal of both prosecutors.

“It is time to clean up a corrupt justice system starting with District Attorney Jackie Johnson and District Attorney George Barnhill,” said Brunswick Pastor Darren West.

After Arbery’s death on Feb. 23, Johnson recused herself from the case but reportedly did not follow the normal protocol of notifying the attorney general that conflicts would prevent her involvement. She called on Barnhill to take over who did for about a month until initial reports were completed.

He then said he would recuse himself as well because of concerns raised by Arbery’s mother regarding his potential conflicts.

By that time, Barnhill had written a letter to law enforcement indicating he did not see the potential for filing charges.

Later, a third prosecutor was appointed who said he would call for a grand jury.

The GBI then investigated and made arrests.

As of this date, a fourth District Attorney from Cobb County is in charge of prosecuting the three defendants in court.

Still, Arbery’s family and the ACLU of Georgia are anxious for the investigation of Johnson and Barnhill to be completed.

“Their conduct surrounding the murder of Ahmaud Arbery demonstrates a clear disregard of their responsibilities to the community,” said Chris Bruce of ACLU of Georgia.

Arbery’s father, Marcus, says he believes a case has been made for removing Johnson who is up for re-election in November.

“She shouldn’t even be on the ballot and we’re asking the attorney general to remove her himself,” he said.

West asserted that perhaps the attorney general was trying to delay.

“Maybe they figure that if they kick the can down the road long enough and wait for the election that maybe the people will let you off the hook by the outcome of their vote,” he said.

The attorney general’s office told News 3 it remains committed to the Arbery case and to complete the investigation.

“Our investigation into the district attorneys’ conduct is a top priority for our office. This investigation will be thorough and complete and remains ongoing with our partners. In addition, we will ensure that this investigation in no way interferes with the important work of the Cobb DA’s prosecution of those that killed Ahmaud Arbery to ensure that justice is done for Ahmaud’s family, his community and our state,” said a spokesperson.

The U.S Justice Department has also been asked to look at the issue.

Marcus Arbery says he and his family will continue to call for removal of both Johnson and Barnhill.

“I know I have to stay strong for him (Ahmaud) because I’m his voice now,” said Mr. Arbery.

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