- Gregory McMichael, who is charged in the killing of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years before retiring in 2019.
- Business Insider reviewed McMichael’s personnel files from the Brunswick District Attorney’s office, where he worked until last spring.
- Records showed that McMichael worked as an investigator for years without the required firearms and deadly force training before it was discovered by the office.
- His boss, Jackie Johnson, visited the state’s training director to seek a waiver for McMichael in 2014.
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Gregory McMichael, the 64-year-old former law enforcement officer charged in the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery, worked for years without the required deadly force and firearms training, his personnel records show.
Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot dead on February 23 while jogging in a Georgia neighbourhood after a run-in with Gregory McMichael and his son Travis. At the time of Arbery’s death, McMichael told police that he and his son pursued the unarmed jogger in a truck while carrying guns to make a citizens arrest because they believed he looked like a break-in suspect.
But even when McMichael worked in local law enforcement he went for years without the required firearms and deadly force training, according to records reviewed by Insider.
A memo from April 2014 indicated that Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson had learned McMichael, an investigator in her office, didn’t complete his Peace Officer Standards Training – including the required firearms and deadly force qualifications – for 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010.
When Johnson learned of his lapse in required training, she visited the office of the state’s POST Director Mitch Jones, who ultimately granted McMichael a waiver for the training. He told his boss in a letter that was included in his files that the reason he had fell behind on training was health issues related to his heart, difficulties involving his teenage daughter, and his wife’s cancer treatment.
“This situation has been a great embarrassment to me and to investigator McMichael,” Johnson wrote to Jones in April 2014. “It has negatively impacted my office, and I have taken measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Please accept my sincere apology.”
McMichael was stripped of his “law enforcement” status early last year
Despite that embarrassment, McMichael continued to work as an investigator for five more years until retiring last spring, records show.
For reasons unclear, McMichael’s POST certification was suspended in February 2019 and he was reassigned to the Camden County District Attorney’s office, about an hour away, and was no longer allowed to work in a “law enforcement” capacity, records show.
“Mr. McMichael will not carry a firearm or badge, nor will he operate any vehicle that would be construed as being law enforcement in nature,” a February 2019 memo signed by Glynn County DA Office Administrator Mark Spaulding said.
When interviewed by Insider last week, Spaulding offered without prompting that investigators in Georgia, unlike other states, don’t have arrest powers. He also said he was otherwise unfamiliar with McMichael’s specific work history.
Insider was unable to reach Spaulding of the Glynn County District Attorney’s office Wednesday morning.
On February 23, not even a year after he retired, McMichael found himself being interviewed by local police after his son, Travis, shot Arbery – a black man – dead as he was on a jog through their neighbourhood.
Gregory McMichael told police that they had been attempting to make a citizen’s arrest because they believed he looked like a suspect responsible for a string of break-ins.
However, The Brunswick News reported that only one burglary was reported in the area from the start of 2020 to the day Arbery died. The sole item stolen was a gun from Travis McMichael’s unlocked pickup truck.
The McMichaels were eventually arrested on May 8, after a trending video surfaced that recorded Arbery’s shooting death.
Two Glynn County commissioners – Allen Booker and Peter Murphy – recently said that responding officers wanted to arrest the McMichaels at the time of the incident, but were blocked by Johnson.
“The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them. These were the police at the scene who had done the investigation,” Booker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She shut them down to protect her friend [Gregory] McMichael.”
Johnson, who eventually recused herself from the case, denied that this ever happened.
The McMichaels remain held without bond at the Glynn County jail, a spokeswoman told Insider Wednesday.
They are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s killing.
- Read more:
- Investigators who arrested a father and son in connection with the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery say ‘probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly’
- Gregory and Travis McMichael arrested in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot dead while jogging unarmed in Georgia
- 2 men were arrested in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The attorney for Arbery’s father says if it were Arbery and his father who killed a white jogger they would have been arrested on the spot.
- Family and friends of shooting victim Ahmaud Arbery are honouring his life with a 2.23-mile run after public outrage over his death led to 2 arrests
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