GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — For more than two decades, Greg McMichael, who is accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, was the chief investigator for Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson.
Now Channel 2’s Tony Thomas has uncovered documents that show for eight of those years, McMichael never had legal arrest powers.
Johnson, who went to bat for McMichael and helped save his career, is accused of trying to bury the murder case against him earlier this year.
“Was she protecting Greg McMichael?” Thomas asked Jim Stein, Johnson’s attorney.
“Oh, absolutely not. She was doing her job,” Stein said.
Johnson said she can’t talk publicly because of the ongoing Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry, and a possible federal investigation, into how she handled the Ahmaud Arbery case, but she’s letting her attorney speak for her.
“She did everything right,” Stein said.
Thomas looked over hundreds of documents on McMichael, examining the entire paper trail of Johnson’s former chief investigator.
The documents show McMichael had a history of failing to attend enough state-mandated training to keep his badge.
Records show in 2014, McMichael realized he hadn’t been certified for eight years. Instead of firing him, Johnson put him on desk duty.
McMichael blamed the errors on health issues, his wife's cancer and bankruptcy.
Johnson vouched for him with the state officer accreditation agency, the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, and it worked. POST gave McMichael a waiver.
In a thank you letter, McMichael called it a great embarrassment, but he was back on the job. And then it happened again.
Records show McMichael failed to get enough training in 2018. Early last year, Johnson took away McMichael’s badge and gun again, but didn't fire him.
Johnson moved McMichael into a staff liaison job for several months until he retired on June 1.
Some eight months later, McMichael would be the center of a national controversy, caught on tape holding a gun in the back of a pickup truck while his son was in a fight with Arbery.
Arbery would be shot in what the McMichaels call self-defense during a citizen’s arrest
Arbery's parents call it a racially motivated murder.
“That's just plain hate and murder,” said Marcus Arbery Sr.
There no indication that Johnson did anything legally wrong in her dealings with McMichael, but critics say it supports their belief she may have tried to help out her former investigator.
Johnson recused herself from the case soon after the shooting because of her connections, but records show she recommended another prosecutor who'd already told police there was no basis for an arrest.
“Did she impede the investigation at all?" Thomas asked Stein.
“No,” Stein said. “She welcomes the investigation because the truth will come out.”
Stein sent a letter to the county and two commissioners warning them to stop making comments about Johnson or she will sue for libel and slander.
The McMichaels remain jailed without bond.
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