The former Georgia prosecutor indicted on misconduct charges for using her position to help the men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s death was booked into jail on Wednesday, Sept. 8, then released.
Former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson was released on her own recognizance and did not have to pay bond after her turning herself in to the Glynn County jail in the morning.
Johnson, 49, was indicted by a Glynn County grand jury on Sept. 2 on a felony count of violating her oath of office and on a misdemeanor count of hindering a law enforcement office.
The indictment alleges Johnson used her position as the circuit district attorney to protect father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan. The men face felony murder charges in 25-year-old Arbery’s death.
The men are set to go to trial on charges of malice murder, felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Jury selection begins on Oct. 18.
The indictment of Johnson stems from an investigation requested last year by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr into how local authorities handled Arbery’s death. Although Arbery was killed in February 2020 while running in his mother’s Satilla Shores neighborhood, no one was arrested in connection with his death until May, after video footage of the slaying surfaced online.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation promptly took over the case and arrested the three men. Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery as he ran through the Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. The McMichaels spotted Arbery running, chased him down and cut off his path with a truck before he was killed. Bryan filmed and joined in on the chase.
Evidence introduced during pretrial hearings shows that McMichael called Johnson and left her a message after the shooting occurred.
“Jackie, this is Greg,” he said, a recording of the call shows. “Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.”
Records reportedly don’t show that Johnson called McMichael back. But according to the indictment, Johnson showed “favor and affection” to McMichael and interfered with police officers at the scene by “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.”
On Feb. 27, just days after the shooting, Johnson wrote a letter recusing herself from the investigation, citing a conflict of interest. Gregory McMichael was a retired investigator with the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office and had previously served as a Glynn County police officer. Johnson requested that Carr assign the case to a different office.
However, Johnson did not disclose that she had already discussed the case with the district attorney to whom she’d recommend the case be transferred.
Johnson has previously denied wrongdoing in her handling of the case, and said she did the right thing by recusing herself. She lost reelection last year and blamed her defeat on controversy stirred by Arbery’s death.