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(ATLANTA) — The parents of Ahmaud Arbery welcomed the indictment of a former district attorney for allegedly interfering with the arrest of one of the men involved in the shooting death of their son as well as showing favor to another.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was fatally shot while jogging on Feb. 23, 2020.
“Yesterday was a very huge win. I’m speechless,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said during a press conference on Friday.
She thanked Attorney General Chris Carr for staying in contact with the family and assuring them that justice would be served.
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said that he is “grateful” for the indictment and that “everybody that had a hand on [Ahmaud’s] death needs to be brought to justice.”
According to the two-count indictment obtained by ABC News, former district attorney Jackie Lee Johnson was charged with violating her oath of office for allegedly “showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.”
McMichael is a retired investigator with the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office who previously served as a Glynn County police officer.
She is also charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer by allegedly “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest,” the indictment said.
An attorney representing Johnson told ABC News on Friday they will not be commenting on the matter amid ongoing litigation.
“The path to justice for Ahmaud Aubrey and his family has been a long and arduous one, but the indictment is yet another step in the right direction,” Aubrey family attorney Benjamin Crump said during the press conference. “Former DA Johnson may not have pulled the trigger on the day Ahmaud was murdered, but she played a starring role in the cover up.”
Three white men in Georgia — Greg and Travis McMichael, a father and son, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. — were charged with murder for allegedly tracking down and fatally shooting Arbery.
All three pleaded not guilty and jury selection for the state trial is set to begin on Oct. 18.
According to a police report, McMichael claimed that he assumed Arbery was a person who committed “several break-ins” in their neighborhood when he and his son chased him down in a pickup truck.
Meanwhile, prosecutors allege Bryan struck Arbery with his vehicle while assisting the McMichaels in chasing him. Bryan also recorded cellphone video that captured Travis McMichael allegedly shooting Arbery with a shotgun during a struggle.
“The way he died, it just really devastated my family,” Marcus Arbery said. “I’m still struggling with it every day as a father because it’s my job to protect my children, and God knows I do that … I’m still hurt because all I got is pictures to look at him.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law in May repealing the state citizen’s arrest statute, therefore banning private citizens from arresting people they suspect committed a crime.
Arbery’s case did not gain national attention until a video of the shooting was leaked on social media, where it went viral.
An arrest was not made until more than two months after Arbery’s death. Amid national outcry, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case and arrested the McMichaels and Bryan.
Federal prosecutors filed hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges against the three men in April. They were arraigned in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia, in May and all three pleaded not guilty.
During the hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro read the federal complaint against the men, which alleges they “did willfully, by force and threat of force, injure, intimidate and interfere with Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man, because of his race and color.”
A trial is set for February 2022.
ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson and Abby Cruz contributed to this report.
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