Atlanta, GA. (CBS46) – The calls for two district attorneys initially involved in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case to resign – are growing louder.
In an open letter to the Georgia State Bar Thursday, more than 300 Georgia attorneys joined with several civil rights groups demanding Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill step down from their positions.
“It shocked me to see that there were two district attorneys in South Georgia – in Waycross and Brunswick – who I felt weren’t doing what they took their oath to do,” said attorney Chris Richardson, a managing partner at the firm, Cooper Richardson, who signed the letter.
In February, 25-year-old Arbery, who was black, was chased by three white men and shot dead – as he jogged in a Brunswick neighborhood.
But it would take nearly three months, for them to arrested and charged in his murder.
Gregory McMichael, and his son Travis, along with William Roddie Bryan were charged with malice murder and several other counts, including aggravated assault and false imprisonment. Bryan recording the shooting that would later go viral sparking national outrage and weeks of protests throughout Georgia.
Both Johnson and Barnhill didn’t pursue criminal charges and eventually recused themselves from the case.
The letter calls for the Georgia State Bar to investigate to the two prosecutors for conflict of interest and misconduct.
Gregory McMichael worked as an investigator for Johnson’s office prior to retiring. Barnhill’s son is an assistant district attorney in Johnson’s office and had previously worked with McMichael.
Richardson said Johnson and Barnhill’s handling of the case resulted in delays in justice for Arbery’s family.
“There were a lot of issues in both the actions – in both Barnhill and Jackie Johnson – that we as attorneys needed to speak up and say something about it. And not only that but the fact that George Barnhill wrote this letter prematurely exonerating the McMichael’s and in that letter he offered factually incorrect, and legally unsound information,” said Richardson. “What I wanted to say with 313 other attorneys across Georgia was enough was enough.”
Since May, civil rights organizations including Just Georgia and the Georgia NAACP have been holding rallies and press conferences calling for the two prosecutors to resign.
“We are pursuing any and every avenue of approach to hold these people accountable because their in-action in not only the Ahmaud Arbery case – and let’s be very clear – this is not related to just one case, this is a series and pattern of practice that concerns us and should concern us all,” said president of the Georgia NAACP Rev. James Woodall.
Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case.
Attorney General Chris Carr’s office continues to review a federal investigation into Barnhill and Johnson.