ATLANTA - A lawyer for the family of Ahmaud Arbery said Monday that a federal prosecutor told the slain man’s mother federal officials are investigating potential misconduct by local officials who handled the case.
Lawyer Lee Merritt said U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine, whose jurisdiction includes southern Georgia, met with him and Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, on Thursday.
“They wanted us to know they had already been involved in the investigation,” Merritt said.
Barry Paschal, a spokesman for Christine, declined to confirm or deny whether the meeting happened.
“Our office does not discuss active investigations, including addressing whether or not those investigations exist,” Paschal said.
Ahmaud Arbery (Photo provided by family members)
Arbery was fatally shot Feb. 23 when a white father and son pursued the 25-year-old black man after spotting him running in their subdivision just outside of Brunswick. They told police they believed he was responsible for break-ins in their neighborhood. More than two months passed before Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were arrested on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.
Brunswick Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson has defended her office’s involvement. The elder McMichael worked for her as an investigator before retiring a year ago, which required the office to step away from the case.
She handed the case to Waycross Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill. That prosecutor also recused himself, but not before writing a letter saying he believed the McMichaels had been justified in trying to hold Arbery until police arrived and their actions were “perfectly legal.”
A statement from S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart sent to FOX 5 on Monday reads:
"The mother and father of Ahmaud Arbery and their legal team met with officials from the Dept. of Justice late last week, including Bobby Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.
“According to Mr. Christine, his office is investigating why it took so long to arrest the individuals responsible for Mr. Arbery's death. This would involve the consideration of both civil and criminal charges against state officials and other conspirators involved in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
“We left that meeting feeling satisfied that the DOJ would do their part to fully investigate all players involved in this murder and that they would hold those responsible accountable."
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.