May 22, 2020
Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) Ahmaud Arbery Case Update May 22
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations or GBI gave an update on the Ahmaud Arbery murder case on May 22, 2020. Read the full transcript of their updates, and click the timestamps for audio & video with an interactive transcript.
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Richard Randolph: (00:00)
… Mission that we’ve been asked to do about potential prosecutorial misconduct. As you recall, we were asked by the Attorney General’s office to conduct a separate and distinct investigation into that. The Bureau is doing that. I don’t have a timeline on that, but I do anticipate it’s not going to take us much longer to finish it. Once that’s completed, what will procedurally happen is we will turn that file over to the Attorney General’s office. They will be the deciding agency or entity in what, if anything, happens in that regard. A separate team of agents are conducting that investigation. And again, I don’t have a definitive timeline, but I am comfortable in telling you that I don’t anticipate it will be much longer until we’re through with that one as well. Yes, Stacy.
Are you able to tell us, what was the last straw that made you make this third arrest?
Richard Randolph: (00:46)
I don’t know if there was a proverbial last straw. I will tell you that in conducting an investigation, what I would ask folks to remember is that we don’t go into a situation of this nature investigating a person or persons, we go in investigating a set of facts. And once we start turning stones over, sometimes there’s one or two stones underneath there that need to be turned over. And once we reached a point, and it was probably some time Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday evening when we began speaking with our folks there, that we’d reached the point in conjunction with the Cobb District Attorney’s office, that we were convinced probable cause existed to make those charges. We proceeded to do that yesterday. It wasn’t a proverbial moment of epiphany or anything of that nature. It was just an accumulation of various things that were there and various things we discovered over the last 16 days. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 3: (01:35)
Mr. Bryan’s continuously saying he’s nothing more than a witness and did not know the McMichaels. Were you all able to determine that Mr. Bryan did know the McMichaels through any set of texts or conversations that they had had [inaudible 00:01:50]?
Richard Randolph: (01:50)
I will say this, again, not to speak on the facts. They’ll come out in a court of law, but I can tell you that if we believed he was a witness we wouldn’t have arrested him. So there’s probable cause and we’re comfortable with that. Yes, sir.
Speaker 4: (02:03)
Mr. Bryan, has he provided any additional footage from the cell phone? In other words, more than the 36 seconds that the public has seen?
Richard Randolph: (02:12)
We have accumulated a number of pieces of video in the case. I’m not going to speak specifically about what we took from him, but eventually that will come out in a court of law. But suffice it to say there are a number of pieces of video that helped us get to this point. Yes, sir.
Speaker 5: (02:28)
Is there anything you can say to reports that Bryan was using his truck to block the …
Richard Randolph: (02:35)
I won’t speak to that specifically. I would refer you to the warrant, particularly the one on false imprisonment. I think it speaks for itself. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 6: (02:43)
Yeah, I just wanted to ask if you could elaborate more on the reported Facebook posts of neighbors in the community saying that they were going to be looking out to potentially send a message to people coming into their neighborhood.
Richard Randolph: (03:00)
I’m not comfortable speaking of that now. I will tell you that our agents have looked over a ton of social media posts, and the majority of those will be made part of this file, which will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office. In any investigation, particularly one of this nature where we’ve charged three people, there’s a great accumulation of pieces of evidence that eventually go into the deciding factors. Again, I’m not being flippant or being disrespectful to your question. I just don’t want to get any more into it than that. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 7: (03:34)
At this point do you think that you won’t be making any further arrests for murder?
Richard Randolph: (03:34)
At this point I don’t anticipate that. I will tell you that, as I said a moment ago, we’re finishing up the investigation into the murder. Again, there’s no timeline. I don’t anticipate us doing much more into the case before we button it up and give it to the District Attorney’s office. But I will tell you this, as I said back two weeks ago today in Brunswick, that we go wherever the facts take us. And if the facts took us in another direction or to another person, we would go there. Right now I do not anticipate that happening, no. Yeah, [Julie 00:00:04:07].
Speaker 8: (04:12)
I was going to ask you about Mr. Bryan. Without going into the investigation, was he the first person that contacted police about the shooting?
Richard Randolph: (04:21)
I don’t want to say that. I don’t want to answer that question yet. I will tell you that I think the warrants, again, indicate what we believe and are confident his involvement was. As far as when he may have contacted the police or if he was the one who contacted the police, I’m sure the Cobb DA’s office will introduce that in evidence at the appropriate time. Yes, sir.
Speaker 9: (04:45)
Sir, I was wondering if you can put your former prosecutor hat on for a moment and put it in perspective for folks. We know that Bryan did not pull the trigger. So why would someone like him in these circumstances be charged with murder?
Richard Randolph: (05:01)
Well, I certainly think that’s a fair question. I understand people’s concern or curiosity about that, but again, I would point you to what the warrants indicate. Felony murder is a crime in Georgia, where if you are committing a felony crime and that crime ends up in the death of another human being, then that’s a felony murder. And so as the warrant’s indicated, he’s charged with an underlying felony. He’s also charged with felony murder. So we believe the evidence would indicate that his underlying felony helped cause the death of Ahmaud Arbery. It’ll be the Cobb District Attorney’s job, their responsibility which they take on, to prove that in a court of law, but they’ve been involved with us in the decision making of this particular arrest. I think they’re as confident as we are that they’ll be able to prove that up in the court of law when that day comes. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 10: (05:53)
Yes, sir, thank you. There was a text message that was sent from a police officer to a property owner essentially urging him to contact Mr. McMichael if there were concerns about trespassers on his property. Is that police officer, or are any police officers under investigation?
Richard Randolph: (06:09)
You know, I don’t want to speak on that directly. I will tell you that things that are relevant to this murder case we’ve looked at and are continuing to look at, if they’re relevant to the murder case. What I would ask people to remember is that sometimes things happen in a case where perhaps acts are foolish, where perhaps acts are something that societally speaking we frown upon. Doesn’t mean they’re criminal. We have to be able to differentiate, as my father often told me, differences in criminal acts and difference between acts of people who have their head stuck up their rear end. And so there’s a difference. And to answer your question, if the investigation leads to other folks, those charges will be filed. If they don’t, they won’t.
Speaker 10: (06:54)
Let’s be clear, are you ruling out any additional arrests in this case?
Richard Randolph: (06:58)
I’m not ruling that out, but I will tell you at this point that we feel confident that the individuals who needed to be charged have been charged. Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry, sir.
Speaker 11: (07:08)
On the prosecutorial misconduct investigation, how much are you cooperating with the Department of Justice? Is double the work being done, or are you all sharing?
Richard Randolph: (07:16)
We’re working with them, is that a fair statement?
Speaker 12: (07:19)
Richard Randolph: (07:19)
Yeah, we’re working hand in hand in conjunction with them. The federal authorities, I’ve always been great partners with the GBI. They are in this particular case as well. I think it’d suffice to say it’s a single investigation being ran together. Now, ultimately there may be different decisions made on a federal level and a state level. But right now we are working hand in hand with them. Yes, sir.
What would be the crime that the investigators would be prosecuting? [inaudible 00:07:48]?
Richard Randolph: (07:50)
If you recall, the request that came to the Bureau was to investigate whether or not there was any prosecutorial misconduct. Whether or not that leads to any criminal situations, Christian, I can’t say at this point. I will tell you that the request was specific as to whether or not look at the conduct of the prosecutors involved on the front end of this case. We are doing that. We’re interviewing individuals, we’re putting that file together, and it’ll be turned over to Chris Carr’s office and the Attorney General.
Question for Ms. Holmes.
Richard Randolph: (08:16)
Ms. Holmes, are you considering a request for a venue change for this trial?
Ms. Holmes: (08:24)
So it’s a little early in the process to discuss the venue change. I anticipate that that will come up, that motions will be filed to that effect. And when it happens we’ll go through the process of getting that done or not.
Speaker 15: (08:37)
I also have a question for you, if I could. Have you spoken to the Arbery family in this process? And what are you saying to them to reassure them that this case will be tried fairly?
Ms. Holmes: (08:48)
I have spoken to the family. We started those conversations on the day that our office was appointed to handle this case. We’ve continued those conversations along with our team. They know and are aware that we have victim advocates in our office that are assigned specifically to their family to help them through the process so that they understand step by step what we are going to be doing. And so most of our conversations have been about that. A request also to help us to get to know Ahmaud. So as we go through this process we can make sure that as the facts and the law come together that we’re doing the right thing by the case.
Speaker 15: (09:26)
When is the bond hearing and preliminary hearing going to be [inaudible 00:09:29]?
Ms. Holmes: (09:30)
None have been scheduled as of yet. I do anticipate the counsel for each of the defendants in this case, that they will file a request for that.
Speaker 16: (09:38)
Are there concerns that because of the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, that it might interfere or undermine your prosecution of the case? And what are you trying to do to limit that?
Ms. Holmes: (09:51)
So our office is focused on the prosecution of the case and where the facts and the law lead us to make that prosecution. We understand that there are going to be those distractions because people want to add narratives to the case that don’t involve the prosecution. But we’re doing the right thing by what we do. Our prosecutorial code of conduct requires that we be ministers of justice and seek that and only that in cases. So while it may be a distraction and people are talking about those things, we’re not making that our primary focus.
Speaker 17: (10:25)
Can you talk about the transfer of evidence and investigative work to your office? How has that process been, especially since there are allegations of cover-up and mismanagement of the case early on? Talk about that transition to your office.
Ms. Holmes: (10:38)
Well, we’ve had complete confidence in the investigation that the GBI has done in this case. They have allowed us, certainly since we’ve been in the case, to talk through what that investigation has yielded thus far. But the discovery process and the full case file, that process is a little bit down the road.
Speaker 17: (10:58)
Did you have to go back to square one essentially, given that there were so many issues early on in Glenn County?
Ms. Holmes: (11:01)
That’s probably more of a question for the director, and that investigation started 16 days ago, a little bit before our office was involved.
Speaker 18: (11:10)
Following up on that just a little bit, can you talk about the role that your investigators will play in this? Will they be going back, will they be gathering their own evidence, doing their own interviews?
Ms. Holmes: (11:21)
Well, right now they’ve worked in great collaboration with the agents in the GBI who have been working this case. So right now we’re going to continue that.
Speaker 19: (11:29)
One more question, Taisha, and then we’re going to wrap up. Many people have said that they would like to see the two DAs that recused themselves come under investigation. If they were to, would that be your office?
Ms. Holmes: (11:41)
No, it would not.
Speaker 20: (11:43)
Can you recap the two assistants’ names real quickly for me?
Ms. Holmes: (11:47)
My chief investigator is Charles Prescott and my deputy chief investigator is Richard Randolph. Thank you.
Speaker 21: (11:59)
Mr. Randolph, could you talk about the search warrant that was served on the McMichaels’ home, and did that in any way play into the arrest of Mr. Bryan?
Richard Randolph: (12:03)
I’m not going to speak on what we found in that. That’s something, again, factually, that’ll have to come out in a court of law. I do want to wrap up and say this, and then I’ll let you all get to your business. On behalf of the Bureau I can’t begin to tell you how much we appreciate the interest in this case. I know there’s been a great deal. I will tell you that there’s been a lot of questions posed to us. There’s been a lot of phone calls made to us, and we appreciate the community’s involvement. The reality is, we make our decision based on facts in the case. And I will stand before you today and tell you that’s exactly what we’ve done in this case. The agents have made arrests based on facts in the case. I’m proud of the fact that they haven’t made any arrest based on any type of pressure, any type of social media, any type of phone calls, or anything of that nature. And I think that’s exactly the way the system works.
Richard Randolph: (12:54)
I hope in the end that our involvement in this case, the way we’ve handled the case, hopefully brings an air of credibility to the criminal justice system, particularly here in our state. I’m very proud of the agents. I’m proud to partner with Ms. Holmes. Thank you for your time this morning, and I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Thank you.