Attorney For Ahmaud Arbery's Family Calls For Prosecutor Who Originally Dismissed The Case To Be Investigated

Lee Merritt refers to George E. Barnhill’s conduct as “evil.”

Video of the February 23, 2020 fatal shooting of Georgia resident Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight was released yesterday (May 5), and instantly went viral.

The footage posted by activist Shaun King, shows Gregory McMichael, a 64-year-old white man, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, gun down the 25-year-old as he was jogging through the quiet Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood. The McMichaels were never arrested nor charged for Arbery’s murder, but the video has now prompted the need for a grand jury investigation.
Now, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Arbery’s family, is calling for an investigation into the prosecutor’s conduct and prior relationship with the McMichaels.

According to the New York Times, George E. Barnhill, the second prosecutor assigned to the case, said in a letter the McMichaels were in their rights to pursue “a burglary suspect,” and justified in using “deadly force to protect himself” under Georgia law. 

The original prosecutor recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael, who is a former police officer and investigator, worked in her office. The case was then given to Barnhill.
However, Barnhill recused himself once Arbery’s mother argued Barnhill was also employed in the same office where Georgry McMichael once worked when he was a police officer, the New York Times reports.
Lee Merrit said on The Clay Cane Show today (May 6) on SiriusXM Urban View, “I want to be clear about George Barnhill because I think he should be investigated for prosecutorial misconduct for this specific reason: his son and the shooter grew up together.”
He continued, “They knew each other well, and only he knew that and he kept that information out of the public, until this family independently had to search Facebook and all the connections and say, 'There seems to be some ties between your son and the shooter,' which he had to admit to and pull himself out of the case.”
Merritt also said Barnhill saw the video of Arbery being killed in February, “He looked at this video evidence that we've all seen... that any human thinking person sees it and sees a crime taking place and he justified it blow-by-blow. He asserted some invalid legal justifications for the deadly force, alleging self-defense.”
Merrit added, “It was not only absurd, it was evil for him to abuse his position in that way.”

Listen to the clip below:

Barnhill’s replacement and now the third prosecutor to try to handle the case, Tom Durden, District Attorney Pro Tempore for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, finally  recommended  a grand jury review. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp also  asked a grand jury to consider criminal charges against the McMichaels on May 6. Kemp hadn’t mentioned the Arbery’s killing, which many are describing as a modern-day lynching, until the video was released and went viral.
RELATED: Joe Biden Responds To Racist Killing: ‘Ahmaud Arbery Was Killed In Cold Blood’

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has also now launched a state investigation, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement, “Based on the video footage and news reports that I have seen, I am deeply concerned with the events surrounding the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. I expect justice to be carried out as swiftly as possible, and I stand ready to support GBI Director Reynolds, DA Durden and the local community.”

The Glynn County Police, who declined to charge the McMichaels even though they had the video since the shooting in February, do not support a GBI investigation and instead are asking for an investigation into who released the now viral video. 

Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, said in a statement, “It was a hate crime. My young son wasn’t doing nothing -- minding his own business, running and working out. And that’s a crime? To work out and run and he aint breaking no law? No. Time out.”  

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