Sunday Reads – Oct. 17, 2021

A TRAGEDY. A TRIAL. BUT WHAT ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY?

On the sunny winter day before Ahmaud Arbery went out for a weekend jog, the 25-year-old had started a load of laundry at his mother’s house and prepared a plate of leftovers for a lunch that he would never eat. Shortly after 1 p.m., about two miles from home, he was chased by three men and killed.

Today we offer a break from our usual Sunday Reads to focus on facts that are likely to be entered into evidence as the murder trial begins Monday against the three Glynn County men accused of killing the 25-year-old Brunswick native. 

Ahmaud Arbery

​​For the last six months we at The Current have been digging for answers about the breakdown in law and order which led to Arbery’s death. Today, we are publishing the first of a series of stories about policing and a lack of accountability in Glynn.

Our analysis of police records and court documents show a persistent lack of accountability among county law enforcement that stretches back a decade. Between 2010-2019 the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute a single county police officer. Glynn police officers have been involved in at least six controversial shootings and have been sued a dozen times in civil court for alleged misconduct, including racial profiling and wrongful death.

EARLIER DEATHS, INVESTIGATIONS

The police department’s checkered history may have been among the  reasons that prompted the county earlier this summer to quietly settle, for the first time, a civil suit regarding police misconduct. The lawsuit was filed by Debra Gann in January 2020, a month before Arbery’s death.

The $1 million payout was related to the 2017 death of Gann’s daughter Katie, the young mother who had been married to Glynn County Police Lt. Robert “Cory” Sasser. Despite a pattern of abuse at home and misconduct on the job, Glynn County police never arrested or charged the officer. Amid an acrimonious divorce, Sasser hunted Katie down in neighboring McIntosh County, shot and killed her and a male friend before killing himself.

Katie Sasser and her mother, Debra Gann Credit: Courtesy, Debra Gann

The settlement does not include an apology or an admission of guilt in Katie’s death, according to Gann, who along with her husband is now raising their young grandson. They moved out of state because they could no longer trust Glynn County police to keep them safe. 

But the settlement could play a part in the journey for justice for Arbery. It could also change the way that Glynn County residents view their local government.

The Arbery family lawyers allege some of the same misconduct as Gann did: Police violated their own procedures in the investigation into Arbery’s death and that police violated Ahmaud’s constitutional rights.

THE TRIAL, REPORTS TO COME

The Current will be following the trial through the weeks ahead. In addition to our reporting, we will curate the best coverage from various news sources. So check our website for updates that add context to the day’s headlines.

We will also continue to publish our findings from our six-month investigation of police records and data analysis of what policing has looked like in Glynn County. And, we will be writing about the effect all of it has on citizens in Brunswick and Glynn County.

Please sign up for our newsletter and keep coming to our website to stay informed about these and other events in Coastal Georgia.

The Current’s Editor in Chief Margaret Coker will be in Glynn County during most of the trial. Drop her an email with thoughts and comments and help us serve you better.


FOR YOUR SECOND CUP

In the feed below, you’ll find stories that remind us of the challenges and news of the months leading to this trial. We also have a timeline of events that helps you easier understand the breakdown in law and justice predating Arbery’s death. You can also see how Brunswick’s united demand for accountability has sparked change.


As Arbery trial starts, Glynn County seeks accountability

A six-month investigation of Glynn County police records and court documents by The Current show a persistent lack of accountability among Glynn County, Georgia, law enforcement that stretches back a decade.

The Ahmaud Arbery murder case

Timeline, with a daily compilation of news around the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery and the trial of three men charged in his killing.

Glynn County convoy commemorates Ahmaud Arbery

As demonstrators and Black Lives Matter advocates arrive in Brunswick for the Arbery murder trial, local residents rally to strengthen community ties.

Glynn D.A. indicted in charges stemming from Arbery case

The Glynn County district attorney who was voted out of office last November for her controversial handling of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing has been indicted on a felony charge for violating her oath of office in relation to the case.

Glynn County Police, residents wrestle with racism

Long before Ahmaud Arbery’s killing put Brunswick and Glynn County on the national map, Black residents felt targeted by local law enforcement. A lack of laws in Georgia to monitor racial profiling by police prevents them from quantifying that perception.

Kemp signs Georgia citizen’s arrest overhaul bill

The bill also followed Kemp’s signing last June of landmark hate-crimes legislation that aims to protect people in the Peach State from acts of violence or property damage perpetrated because of the victim’s race, sex or gender.

Glynn County residents meet police chief nominee

Battiste, the county commission’s sole finalist of the high-stakes search, met the community reeling from Ahmaud Arbery’s killing. The appointment could help or hurt the county’s reckoning with racial tensions.

Friday Football, Coaches Provide Hope in Arbery’s Hometown

Ahmaud. George. Breonna — names now synonymous with racial violence. This is the story how residents in one victim’s hometown are coping.

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