Here’s a Rarity: A Former Prosecutor Is Facing Criminal Charges for Violating Her Oath of Office
A grand jury on Thursday indicted a former prosecutor for allegedly using her power to protect the men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Georgia man who was chased through a neighborhood before being shot and killed in February of last year.
Jackie Johnson, who for a decade served as the district attorney in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, is charged with violating her oath of office, which is a felony, and hindering a law enforcement officer, which is a misdemeanor.
While it’s too early to predict an outcome, the mere fact that a former prosecutor is facing accountability for potential misconduct is remarkable.
Arbery’s death drew a swell of national attention last year after Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael pursued Arbery in their truck while he was out on a run, with the former ultimately gunning him down at close range. Neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the hunt in his own car and allegedly blocked Arbery from escaping. The three men insist they suspected Arbery had committed burglary and therefore they had the right to perform a citizen’s arrest, while the state contends no such evidence exists.
Prosecutors initially declined to press charges. That changed months later after a cellphone video of the killing—taken by Bryan—was leaked online in May 2020, attracting the attention of Gov. Brian Kemp, who rerouted the case to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
By that time, Johnson had long been off the case. The erstwhile prosecutor, who lost reelection in November 2020, has maintained her innocence and says she recused herself right away because Greg, the older McMichael, used to be her employee.
But the indictment against her tells a different story, alleging she “show[ed] favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation.” Johnson “fail[ed] to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity,” it continues, when she recommended the c
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