Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the state plans to look into the way the investigation of Ahmaud Arbery’s slaying was handled.
Arbery was killed Feb. 23, while jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick. No arrests were made until May 7.
On May 10, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr formally requested the U.S. Department of Justice, led by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine, to conduct an investigation into the handling of the Arbery case, according to a press release issued from Carr’s Office.
On Monday, Carr named Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes as the new lead prosecutor to handle the case.
Carr said his office received a request in February from the Brunswick DA to appoint another prosecutor. He appointed the Waycross DA to prosecute the case, but claims both DAs failed to let his office know the Waycross DA had already begun reviewing evidence and advising the Glynn County Police Department regarding whether to make arrests in the case.
The press release said Carr received a request April 7 from the Waycross DA to appoint another prosecutor, but did not inform Carr of his prior involvement in the case.
It also did not provide any reason for the delay in contacting Carr to request appointment of a new prosecutor since the discovery of those facts. Nor did the April 7 request note that on April 2 the Waycross District Attorney had provided the Glynn County Police Department with a written opinion that no arrests should be made in the case, according to Carr.
Atlantic Judicial Circuit DA Tom Durden was appointed by Carr’s office April 13 to review the case file and on May 5 he requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation take over the investigation.
Within two days, GBI Director Vic Reynolds announced the arrest of the two men who allegedly shot Arbery.
During a press conference held Friday morning in Brunswick, Reynolds said Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
Reynolds thanked Arbery’s family for their continued patience and said he appreciated the patience of a community, “emotionally worn pretty thin.”
He gave an overview of the timeline of the GBI’s investigation.
On February 23, Arbery was in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, when both Gregory and Travis McMichael confronted Arbery with two firearms, Reynolds said. During the encounter, Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery, Reynolds said.
On April 13, the investigation was turned over to Durden after other prosecutors recused themselves from the case. Gregory McMichael is a former police officer and was later an investigator for the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office.
Reynolds said after receiving the request from Durden to handle the case, he quickly assembled a team of agents. By last Wednesday morning they were reviewing the original case files and canvassing the neighborhood. He said by Thursday morning they had sufficient probable cause to issue arrest warrants.
The GBI arrested the father and son duo at 7:45 p.m. May 7.
“They are now in Glynn County Jail,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds was asked if the folks who made or released the video tape, which was leaked online Tuesday, would also face charges.
“This case is still an active case,” Reynolds said. “Agents will continue to work this case to see if any additional arrests will be made.”
Reporters questioned why the GBI didn’t handle the investigation sooner. Reynolds explained that the GBI can only become involved when asked. Durden said he received the case the second week of April and after reviewing the case file with his team he made the request.
Immediately following the press conference, a rally was held to honor Arbery’s memory.
Arbery’s mom, Wanda Cooper, spoke and said she still fears for the lives of her nephews and family. She said she was pleased to see everyone standing together for her son and for justice.
“We all need to stick together,” she said.
She said she still can’t believe she will never see her son’s face again.
“His smile was contagious,” she said.