Court docs say Ahmaud Arbery had previous connection with one of the men who shot him

The man who recorded the video may also face arrest, says the Georgia Bureau Of Investigation

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The investigation of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery took another turn this week as it has been revealed that at least one of the shooters and Arbery may have known each other.

READ MORE: 2 men arrested, charged with murder in shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Greg McMichael, one of the men charged in the murder of Arbery, previously investigated the 25-year-old. Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill recused himself from the case due to a conflict of interest, in a letter sent to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

He wrote that his son, a prosecutor in the Brunswick DA’s office, and McMichael, then an investigator in that same office, “both helped with the previous prosecution of (Ahmaud) Arbery.”

 

Barnhill claimed that he only became aware of this previous association “three or four weeks” earlier. He made no mention as to why he waited to come forward with this information but accused others of spreading lies about him and the McMichaels.

Barnhill declared, “a local ‘rabble rouser’ has taken up this cause and begun publishing wild and factually incorrect and legally wrong accusations on Facebook and other social media formats calling for marches and physical affronts be made against the McMichaels at their homes, and my son’s home in Brunswick, etc.”

Court records show that as a student in high school, Arbery was sentenced to five years probation as a first offender on charges of carrying a weapon on campus and several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer.

He violated his probation when he was convicted in a shoplifting case in 2018. Barnhill alluded to these misdeeds when he wrote to the Glynn County police that charges weren’t warranted against the McMichaels in Arbery’s February shooting death.

READ MORE: Supporters organize 2.23-mile run in honor of Ahmaud Arbery

Arbery was unarmed and jogging when the McMichaels chased him in a truck and shot at him three times. They claimed Arbery was a possible suspect in a string of robberies and instigated the confrontation. Footage shot on a cell phone shows a different sequence of events.

“This family are not strangers to the local criminal justice system,” Barnhill wrote in his letter to Carr. “From best we can tell, Ahmaud’s older brother has gone to prison in the past and is currently in the Glynn jail, without bond, awaiting new felony prosecution. It also appears a cousin has been prosecuted by DA Johnson’s office.”

Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery’s mother, requested Barnhill’s recusal from the case. Her attorney, Lee Merritt, said that the father and son would have “gotten away with murder” if Barnhill had not recused himself.

“This speaks to the wider issue of mass incarceration,” Merritt said. “If Black people have any kind of criminal record somehow that justifies their murder.”

READ MORE: Video of Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting while jogging draws more outrage

The father and son were arrested Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault after a national outcry. The Arbery family has also demanded the arrest of William “Roddie” Bryan the man who recorded the footage from what appears to be a vehicle trailing Arbery while the McMicheals laid in wait for him.

Authorities announced Friday that arrest may be forthcoming.

“We are going to go wherever the evidence takes us,” Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said Friday during a news conference. “In a perfect world, we would have preferred to have been asked to become involved in February, of course.”

Alan Tucker, a criminal defense attorney in Brunswick, released the video. He says he did so because of too much speculation and rumor surrounding Arbery’s death.

“I didn’t release this to ‘show that they did nothing wrong,’ as is being circulated,” he told the AJC.

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