Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has requested the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launch an investigation into the handling of the case surrounding Ahmaud Arbery’s death after it took more than two months for arrests to be made in the case.
“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Carr said in a release detailing the formal request on Sunday. “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 request comes after the shooting death of Arbery, an unarmed black man who was killed back in February. Arbery had been fatally shot by Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, after the two had followed him in their truck near Brunswick, Ga.
Arbery’s family say the 25-year-old, a former high school football player who was known by friends and family to jog regularly, had gone out for a run at the time when he was shot and killed. However, the McMichaels, who were arrested on charges of murder and aggravated assault on Friday, claim they were following Arbery because they thought he was a burglar.
Gregory McMichael worked previously as an investigator for a prosecutor in Brunswick. Two prosecutors had recused themselves from the case of Arbery’s death due to potential conflicts of interest before it was recently taken up by District Attorney Thomas Durden, who said earlier this month that he would present the case to a grand jury as news of Arbery’s death began to pick up traction on social media.
A release detailing Carr’s formal request said the attorney general is asking the DOJ to look into “communications and discussions by and between the Office of the District Attorney of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit and the Office of the District Attorney of the Waycross Judicial Circuit related to this case.”
Four days after Arbery’s death on Feb. 23, Carr’s office said it received a “request from the Office of the District Attorney of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit to appoint another prosecutor for this case.” That same day, Carr’s office said it appointed the District Attorney for the Waycross Judicial Circuit to handle the case.
However, his office said “at the time of the request by the Brunswick Circuit District Attorney and acceptance by the Waycross Circuit District Attorney, neither revealed to the Office of the Attorney General that the Waycross Circuit District Attorney had already taken a role in the case in reviewing evidence and advising the Glynn County Police Department regarding whether to make arrests in the case.”
Carr’s office said it didn’t receive a request from the Office of the District Attorney for the Waycross Judicial Circuit to have another prosecutor appointed to the case until early April.
However, in that request, his office said the Waycross Circuit District Attorney “again did not inform the Office of the Attorney General of his prior involvement in the case before his appointment and specifically described to the Office of the Attorney General the actions that he took ‘upon taking the case.’’
“In the request of April 7, 2020, the Waycross Circuit District Attorney indicated that he and the Brunswick Circuit District Attorney learned as of ‘about 3-4 weeks ago,’ that his son who is employed as a prosecutor in the Office of the Brunswick Circuit District Attorney had handled a prior prosecution of Mr. Arbery and that one of the defendants in this case had also served as an investigator on the same prosecution,” Carr’s office stated.
The office added that the April 7 request did not provide explanation for “the delay in contacting the Office of the Attorney General to request appointment of a new prosecutor since the discovery of those facts,” nor did it reveal that the “Waycross Circuit District Attorney had provided the Glynn County Police Department with a written opinion that no arrests should be made in the case” on April 2.
Carr’s office said that it will provide its “entire file regarding the appointment process for the prosecutors” in the case to the DOJ as well as any assistance requested by the department.