Coronavirus, News

WABE’s Week In Review: Developments In Arbery Case And More Coronavirus Impact

According to personnel files obtained by WABE, Gregory McMichael, who along with his son Travis is accused in the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery, did not attend required firearms training while employed by the Brunswick District Attorney’s office.
According to personnel files obtained by WABE, Gregory McMichael, who along with his son Travis is accused in the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery, did not attend required firearms training while employed by the Brunswick District Attorney’s office.
Credit Glynn County Detention Center via AP

On the Week in Review for May 11-17, WABE’s Managing Editor Alex Helmick showcases stories from our journalists on the high-profile killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick. Gregory and Travis McMichael were charged with murder after a graphic video of the incident went viral. This week, WABE obtained the personnel files of Gregory McMichael, which show he did not attend required firearms training while employed by the Brunswick District Attorney’s office.

‘This situation has been a great embarrassment …’ 

In 2014, Gregory McMichael was notified he had been deficient in training hours for five prior years, according to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. For three of those years, he failed to qualify for the Use of Deadly Force training. He had been without his arrest powers from 2006 to 2014.

McMichael’s employer, District Attorney Jackie Johnson, appealed to the council in person for a waiver for the infractions.

“This situation has been a great embarrassment to me and to Investigator McMichael. It has negatively impacted my office, and I have taken measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Please accept my sincere apology,” she wrote to the council’s director in 2014. Johnson recused herself from the Arbery killing case days after it happened because of her connection to McMichael.

People pray during a May 8 rally to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)
People pray during a May 8 rally to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)

History repeating? 

Years before the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the county police had a tangled history of corruption and scandals. The Glynn County Police Department’s track record of protecting its own is coming under scrutiny as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation takes over the case of the shooting death of Arbery, whose killing has drawn comparisons to a modern-day lynching.

35% of workforce filing for unemployment …

Georgia’s Department of Labor is bracing to handle an increase in permanent layoffs from the coronavirus pandemic. The state has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country at 35%, with 1.8 million residents filing for unemployment. Most Georgia unemployment claims were filed each week by employers as they furloughed workers on a temporary basis, but as the pandemic drags on, many will have to let go of employees permanently. In those cases, employees need to file for unemployment themselves. Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says the department is setting up a system to smooth out that transition.

Take that for data…

Federal officials are worried about Georgia’s ability to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients even as the state continues to loosen shelter-in-place restrictions, according to Liz Essley Whyte, a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, who has obtained the information on an internal government document. It is one of the struggles reporters are facing on getting clear-cut numbers and data from government officials. She spoke on WABE’s “Did You Wash Your Hands” podcast. 

‘If there’s anything good about Ted…’ 

Ted Reissing on a recent bird watching trip to Sri Lanka. (Photo courtesy of Ted Reissing)
Ted Reissing on a recent bird watching trip to Sri Lanka. (Photo courtesy of Ted Reissing)

Ted and Kay Reissing now live in separate units on the Somerby Senior Living campus so Kay can get specialized care in the memory unit. But precautions for the elderly and those with medical conditions, especially in care centers, means the two can’t see each other unless there is a glass barrier. And that doesn’t work as Kay wants to be with Ted and tries to come through the door. So after 57 years of marriage, he doesn’t see her so as not to upset his wife. But when restrictions lift, he’ll be back there with the 140 or so scrapbooks Kay made before she was ill.