25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while out jogging on February 23 in Glynn County, Georgia
The fatal shooting of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery is prompting demands to disband the embattled Glynn County Police Department, which has been accused of cover up operations, abuse of power and was embroiled in a scandal where a narcotics officer slept with a confidential informant.
The Glynn County Police Department has faced public outrage for its handling of the death of 25-year-old Arbery, who was killed on February 23 after he was shot three times by white men Gregory McMichael, 64, a former employee of the department, and his son Travis McMichael, 34.
More than two months passed before the father and son were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault on May 7, following the release of video footage of the killing. Both were denied bond and remain in Glynn County Jail.
The Arbery case is fueling calls from the public to get rid of the Glynn County Police Department for their checkered past and have the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office take over, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In total the Glynn County Police Department has faced 17 lawsuits over the past decade.
The Glynn County Police Department is facing calls to be disbanded for its handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case and for its checkered past of corruption including its scandal that emerged in 2019 where a narcotics officer slept with a confidential informant. Police Chief John Powell (above) and other officers were indicted in February over alleged wrongdoing in the narcotics scandal
Glynn County Police Department has been plagued with multiple scandals with 17 lawsuits against the force in the last decade
Four days after Arbery’s death a grand jury indicted Police Chief John Powell and three other current and former officers over alleged wrongdoing in a narcotics unit in a scandal that was internally investigated last year.
Just last year a grand jury accused the Glynn County Police Department of having a culture of cover up, triggering efforts to overhaul the agency.
In 2018 the department lost its certifications with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, both voluntary programs that provide police training standards and professional development.
The Georgia Association Chiefs of Police spokesman said Glynn County Police ‘fell out of compliance’ with several standards including the documentation of training and required audits of the evidence room.
In 2017 Glynn County Police supervisors learned an officer in a narcotics unit had an improper sexual relationship with a confidential informant.
Gregory McMichael, 64, a former employee of the department (left), and his son Travis McMichael, 34, (right) were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault on May 7, following the release of video footage of the killing, over two months after Arbery’s death
Video footage which showed Gregory and Travis embroiled in a scuffle with Arbery before they fatally shot him sparked national outrage after it was published on social media earlier this month
‘There is an ongoing culture of cover up, failure to supervise, abuse of power and lack of accountability within the administration of the Glynn County Police Department,’ jurors wrote in the case.
In an internal affairs investigation on Feb 4, 2019 found evidence that drug task force investigator James Cassada had sex with two confidential informants he had control over, according to First Coast News. He resigned shortly after that investigation began.
Instead of investigating, the department covered it up, according to a report by the grand jury.
The report said at least one supervisors refused to be interviewed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and urged others not to cooperate. This led to the disbanding of the drug force last year.
This is the case Chief Powell and three former members of the county police leadership were indicted for on February 28 this year.
Chief Powell was placed on administrative leave with pay and an interim chief was named.
State Sen. William Ligon Jr filed a bill well before Arbery’s murder that would allow Glynn County voters to express whether or not they want to abolish the police department all together in a referendum ballot vote. From there, the vote would be given to county commissioners as a recommendation, not an order.
Now with Arbery’s death, Ligon is considering altering the bill, drafted last year, to consider altering the measure to make the referendum binding.
Lawmakers will consider the bill when they reconvene, possibly in June.
‘There’s frustration at how this has been handled. The public should just be able to vote for change,’ Ligon said.
‘This Ahmaud case has proved that our hopes were in vain. It’s appalling to us that our [local] law enforcement made no arrest in this case,’ Rev. John Perry II, president of the NAACP’s Brunswick, Georgia, chapter said on the department’s repeated controversies.
On Saturday hundreds gathered at a rally outside the Glynn County courthouse demanding accountability for Arbery’s case
Protesters march after a rally at the Glynn County Courthouse to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on Saturday in Brunswick, Georgia
A woman pictured speaking through a megaphone at Saturday’s rally where protesters marched from the Glynn County Courthouse to a police station in Brunswick, Georgia
The crowd marched away from the courthouse, taking a knee in silence and blocking traffic for more than 60 seconds to symbolize the days it took for arrests in the case
The crowd chanted: ‘When black lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back’
In April, Glynn County commissioners established a panel to suggest improvements to the police department and implement them. The group held its first meeting on May 5, but the Arbery wasn’t discussed there, instead the meeting focused on how the department could regain its accreditation.
On Saturday hundreds gathered at a rally outside the Glynn County courthouse demanding accountability for Arbery’s case.
‘Justice for Ahmaud is more than just the arrest of his killers. Justice is saying we’ve got to clean up the house of Glynn County,’ John Perry, president of the Brunswick NAACP chapter said at the rally.
Protesters voiced their outrage over the county’s failure to hold Travis and Gregory McMichael accountable in the case and waiting months to arrest them only after video of the killing sparked national fury.
Speakers at the rally demanded the resignation of Jackie Johnson, the district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit who recused herself from the investigation, and George Barnhill, the Waycross circuit district attorney who took over the case and declined to press charges.
Organizers of the rally said around 250 vehicles drove more than four hours from Atlanta for the rally, bringing historically black fraternities and sororities, civil rights organizations and black-led gun rights groups, who said if Arbery had armed himself, he might be alive today
A man stands next to the memorial for Ahmaud Arbery on May 8, at the place where he was shot and killed in February after being chased by a white former law enforcement officer and his son, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood
Gregory McMichael was an investigator in Johnson’s office before retiring last May. Both Johnson and Barnhill have denied wrongdoing.
Organizers of the rally said around 250 vehicles drove more than four hours from Atlanta for the rally, bringing historically black fraternities and sororities, civil rights organizations and black-led gun rights groups, who said if Arbery had armed himself, he might be alive today.
The crowd then marched away from the courthouse, taking a knee in silence and blocking traffic for more than 60 seconds to symbolize the days it took for arrests in the case.
Then they chanted: ‘When black lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.’
TIMELINE OF BOTCHED HANDLING OF AHMAUD ARBERY’S CASE
February 23: Ahmaud Arbery is shot dead in the street in Brunswick, Georgia.
Gregory and Travis McMichael had gone out in their car with guns to chase him because they mistook him for a burglar.
When they caught up to him, Travis got out of the car.
Jackie Johnson recused herself because McMichael used to work in her office
Gregory says they told Arbery that they wanted to talk to him and that he attacked Travis. A struggle ensued and Travis fired his gun twice, killing Ahmaud, 25.
Late February – First prosecutor recuses herself
Jackie Johnson, the Brunswick District Attorney, stepped down from the case because Gregory used to work in her office as an investigator.
Mid-April – Second prosecutor says he won’t press charges, then recuses himself
George Barnhill said Ahmaud initiated the fight
George Barnhill was given the case.
He at first said he did not think it merited charges because the McMichaels were acting lawfully by trying to carry out a citizen’s arrest, which is legal in Georgia.
He also said that the video ‘shows’ Arbery reaching for Travis’ gun.
Barnhill recused himself because his son, also called George Barnhill, works in the office where McMichael used to
The first shot is fired however when the pair are out of frame.
When the camera panned back to them, they were struggling again to the side of the vehicle.
Barnhill said Travis was standing his ground by firing three shots which hit Arbery.
He later had to recuse himself after it emerged that his son works in the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office, where Gregory served.
May 5 – Third prosecutor passes it on to grand jury
Tom Durden is the third prosecutor to have the case come across his desk.
He said that his office would approach it without prior prejudice.
This week, he announced that he would not make a decision on whether or not to charge, and that he wants to convene a grand jury to take it on.
May 7 – Georgia Bureau of Investigation files charges
The GBI announced that it was bringing charges of murder and aggravated assault against the Gregory and Travis on May 7.
May 11 – Department of Justice says it is weighing hate crime charges against the McMichaels
Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr orders the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct a federal probe into why it took 74 days for the men to be arrested.
The case is also given to Joyette Holmes, a black prosecutor.