GA Attorney General requests DOJ look into handling of Ahmaud Arbery case

Ahmaud Arbery gunned down, Gregory and Travis McMichael charged with murder

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — The Attorney General of Georgia has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the handling of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Attorney General Chris Carr issued a statement Sunday night requesting the federal government to investigate the case.

Arbery, 25, was killed by a white father and son who pursued him with guns in a pickup truck as he jogged through their neighborhood in Brunswick in February.

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Greg and Travis McMichael were arrested on murder charges after a video surfaced of the confrontation that left Arbery dead. The video went viral and sparked outrage across the nation.

"We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset," Carr said. "The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers."

The Arbery family’s lawyers, S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart, issued a statement Sunday night about Carr’s decision to have the DOJ look into the handling of the case:

“We are pleased that Georgia AG Chris Carr has officially asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate the handling, and potential cover-up, of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. We have requested the involvement of the DOJ since we first took this case. There are far too many questions about how this case was handled and why it took 74 days for two of the killers to be arrested and charged in Mr. Arbery’s death. It is our hope that the DOJ will conduct a comprehensive investigation to determine how and why this case was so poorly handled. Those who were responsible for this travesty of justice must be held accountable. We will continue to tirelessly pursue every avenue of justice for Ahmaud Arbery’s family.”

Carr said the request includes an investigation of the communications and discussions related to the case by and between the Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office and the Waycross Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office.

Earlier Sunday, the National Association of District Attorneys condemned the actions of a prosecutor who eventually recused himself from Arbery’s case.

Waycross County District Attorney George Barnhill wrote a letter exonerating the McMichaels on April 3 after saying he had a conflict of interest in the case. Greg McMichael had worked as an investigator at the Glynn County police department for 20 years before he retired last year.

Barnhill initially advised Glynn County police to not arrest the McMichaels before he was appointed to the Arbery case.

“We must strongly disagree with District Attorney George Barnhill’s decision to share his opinion of whether Greg and Travis McMichael should be arrested after he decided to recuse himself from the case,” the association said. “No prosecutor should inject his or her opinion into a pending case to the point where she or he becomes a potential witness and risks compromising the just outcome of a case.”

Despite the fact that the shooting happened February 23, no arrests were made in the case until last week.

Carr’s request to theDOJ details a timeline of when each judicial circuit took on the case and why no arrests were made at the time.

Shortly after the video’s leak last week, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The arrests came hours after officials asked the GBI to start investigating. The inquiry was previously in the hands of local officials.

The father and son said they thought Arbery matched the appearance of a burglary suspect who they said had been recorded on a surveillance camera some time before.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her 25-year-old son, a former high school football player, was just jogging in the neighborhood before he was killed.

On Saturday, the GBI confirmed that it had obtained other photos of video that might shed light on the case. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published footage from a surveillance camera at a Brunswick home near where Arbery was shot that shows someone who appears to be Arbery walking into a home under construction. Arbery then came back out and ran down the street. Someone else comes out across the street from the construction site, and then a vehicle drives off farther down the street, near where Travis McMichael lives.

Lawyers for Arbery’s family say the video bolsters their position that Arbery did nothing wrong, and shows he did not commit a felony. Under Georgia law, someone who isn’t a sworn police officer can arrest and detain another person only if a felony is committed in the presence of the arresting citizen.

“Ahmaud’s actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law,” the lawyers wrote in a social media post. “This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video of the shooting has been seen by millions of people around the world and sparked outrage.