Gregory McMichael, who was charged in shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, spent years of his decades-long tenure at a Georgia district attorney’s office without maintaining proper training as a law enforcement officer which led to a suspension.
McMichael, 64, and his son Travis were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the February 23 killing of Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man, in the predominately white neighourhood of Satilla Shores, about 280 miles (450km) outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
The McMichaels were not arrested for more than two months after the killing. It was not until a video was released showing the deadly encounter and an ensuing national outcryfor action that the pair were arrested, on May 7.
Some have alleged McMichael’s long work tenure at the Brunswick district attorney office – where he worked from 1995 to 2019 – played a role in the delayed arrest.
District attorneys from Brunswick and Waycross, Georgia, both recused themselves from the case due to professional ties to the McMichael family. Georgia’s attorney general has requested a probe into their response.
A 2014 email to District Attorney Jackie Johnson, the current DA of Glynn County whose office is currently under investigation in relation to the Arbery case, shows that another investigator who spoke with McMichael about the lapse in training found that “liability for any improper actions by Greg would fall on Greg, the District Attorney’s Office and you personally”.
Johnson’s office did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. Johnson has denied any bias in the case in interviews with local media.
Johnson wrote to the agency overseeing McMichael’s training certification that the lapse was “a great embarrassment to me and Investigator McMichael”.
McMichael lists personal health and financial difficulties, as well as a failure to receive proper accreditation, as reasons for the lapse in training hours in a document that appears to be part of a waiver for hours missed.
McMichael suffered a heart attack in October 2006, he says in the document.
The document includes further claims of health concerns, both for himself and his wife, including a second heart attack in 2009. That year, McMichael writes, he filed for bankruptcy due in part to medical expenses.
“As is the case with many heart attack survivors, I began to suffer from post heart attack Clinical Depression,” he writes.
“The depression made me unable at times to focus on important tasks” like attaining the proper hours of law enforcement training, McMichael continued.