BRUNSWICK, Ga. - The district attorney who recused himself from the case of a black jogger shot and killed by two white men in south Georgia defended the decision not to seek arrests.
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed in February while out for a jog in a residential neighborhood. The suspects, Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, told police they were pursuing a "burglary suspect" and that Arbery attacked them.
The two were not initially arrested. However, The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the case after video, taken by a third person, of the killing became public. McMichael and his father now both face charges of murder and aggravated assault.
Gregory Johns McMichael, 64, (left) and Travis James McMichael, 34 (right). Source: Glynn County Sheriff's Office.
George E. Barnhill, the elected District Attorney for the Waycross Circuit, recused himself from the case.
On February 23, Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, insisted Barnhill had a conflict of interest. Barnhill said his son works in the Brunswick DA's office that Greg McMichael worked in as an investigator and later retired from.
Barnhill's letter to Glynn County Police has gotten national attention because in it, he justifies the deadly shooting of Arbery, who was unarmed.
The longtime prosecutor wrote, "We do not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties."
It goes on to say Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and the man who he says shot the video, Bryan Williams, were following in "hot pursuit of a burglary suspect, with solid first-hand probable cause."
Attorneys for Arbery's family say he was not a burglary suspect, but rather a jogger who was shot down in a modern-day lynching.
"It screams out for investigation," former federal prosecutor Bret Williams told FOX 5.
Ahmaud Arbery (Photo provided by family members)
The former Assistant U.S. Attorney viewed the video and believes it shows the two men with guns as the attackers, not the jogger.
"Are you supposed to just sit down and be executed? If someone shows up to me with a gun and is pursuing me and gets out with a gun...and I am now at fault because I tried to resist that attack?" Williams told FOX 5.
D.A. Barnhill writes that the video in real-time shows Mr. Arbery "attack" Travis McMichael, but the former federal prosecutor said he disagrees with district attorney's conclusion.
The GBI began investigating the high profile case this week. Director Vic Reynolds has asked for patience as his agency puts fresh eyes on the case.