Gregory McMichael, the former Georgia police detective charged in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, was stripped of his law-enforcement certification last February after failing to complete required use-of-force courses, records state.
Records first obtained by The Washington Post show that McMichael, 64, lost his power to arrest after repeatedly failing to complete required training sessions—even after a 2014 warning that he had not finished mandatory force and firearms courses.
During his 37-year career in law enforcement, McMichael was stripped of his law-enforcement powers twice: Once in January 2006 after an undisclosed infraction and again in February 2019 after the Georgia Peace Officer Stands and Training Council (POST) suspended him for “failure to maintain training for the year.”
In all, McMichael had fallen short in various types of training hours in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010—and did not complete the mandatory use-of-force and firearms training for at least three of those years, the documents from the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office state.
“This situation has been a great embarrassment to me and to Investigator McMichael,” Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson wrote in a June 2014 letter to the Georgia POST director. “It has negatively impacted my office, and I have taken measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Please accept my sincere apology.”
McMichaels and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael, are currently facing murder and aggravated assault charges for allegedly chasing and shooting Arbery on Feb. 23 while he was jogging on a residential street in Georgia.
The slaying—which many have described as a “lynching”—and the subsequent investigation spurred a national outcry and a Department of Justice investigation days after graphic footage emerged of the shooting in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick.
“We cannot turn away a video that shows two white men casing a black man and killing him,” Becky Monroe, the director of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who previously served as interim director of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, told The Daily Beast. “We cannot turn away from that video and we cannot turn away from the facts of this case. We need a full investigation into the case.”
The charges against the McMichaels come more than two months after Arbery, who was unarmed, died and after the case was bounced to three local prosecutors—two of whom are currently under investigation—before it was ultimately referred to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation alleges that on Feb. 23 the father and son, armed with a shotgun and a .357 Magnum, confronted Arbery, who was about two miles from his home, before Travis McMichael shot him. The entire incident was captured on video by Bryan.
The two white men have said they were chasing Arbery along the tree-lined road because they wanted to make a citizen’s arrest on the man they suspected of being a burglar—though authorities have said there were no break-ins reported in the more than seven weeks prior to Arbery’s death.
In the face of the national outcry, two defense attorneys retained by Gregory claimed in a statement to The Daily Beast on Thursday that a “rush to judgment” has caused the public to vilify their client.
“While the death of Ahmaud Arbery is a tragedy, causing deep grief to his family—a tragedy that at first appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life—this case does not fit that pattern. The full story, to be revealed in time, will tell the truth about this case,” Frank Hogue, one of the attorneys, said.
The documents from the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, however, provide a detailed—though incomplete—look at the 64-year-old’s history with Glynn County.
According to the personnel documents, McMichael fought to keep his arrest powers several times after skipping out on trainings—writing in 2014 that the missed hours were the result of numerous health issues he and his wife had suffered from in 2006 and again in 2009.
“Again I do not offer this information as an excuse, I knew full well that I was responsible for attending the proper amount of training but failed to do so,” McMichael wrote in his waiver application to the training council. “The years 2006 through 2009 were a very difficult period in my life. I allowed the difficulty of the situation to cloud my judgment.”
The 64-year-old’s waiver was granted, according to the records, and he continued to serve as an investigator in Johnson’s office until the problem arose again in February 2019. Instead of fighting the suspension, McMichael agreed in a memorandum to give up his badge and weapon. He was reassigned to the Camden County District Attorney’s office as a non-sworn employee before he ultimately retired in June.
“To that end, Mr. McMichael will not carry a firearm or badge, nor will he operate any vehicle in the motor pool outfitted with lights, siren or police radio equipment,” the 2019 memo stated, according to The Washington Post.
McMichael and his son are currently being held without bond at the Glynn County Detention Center. His lawyers said they plan to schedule a preliminary hearing soon, at which point “more of the truth will come out, and they will petition the court to set bail.”
Demands for justice in Arbery’s case continued on Thursday. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and 110 additional organizations issued a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr calling for a “full and thorough hate crimes investigation” into the case and a federal civil rights investigation into the local district attorneys—and the Glynn County Police Department—for what they call “systemic constitutional abuses.”
Their demand comes one day after more than 80 lawmakers, spearheaded by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, issued a letter to the DOJ with a similar plea.
“The DOJ has publicly acknowledged the real and growing threat of white supremacy and white nationalism in the United States. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the actions of the local district attorneys and police department warrant the DOJ’s action,” the group wrote in the letter.
“This terrifying violence is not new; it is part of the continuing dehumanization of Black people across America," the letter says. "We cannot fight the racism, hate, and impunity that threaten the lives of Black people and other people of color unless the department takes the necessary actions to ensure full and real accountability.”