Voters can’t abolish GA police department: Judge

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Voters can’t try to abolish an embattled Georgia police department that was wrapped in controversy even before the department oversaw the initial investigation into the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a judge ruled Friday.

Superior Court Judge Charles Paul Rose ruled that the referendum on abolishing the Glynn County Police Department is unconstitutional. He also issued an injunction keeping the measure off the Nov. 3 ballot. County election supervisor Chris Channell told The Brunswick Newsthe elections board would not appeal the decision.

State lawmakers passed the referendum and Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure amid troubled times for Glynn County police. The department’s chief and three former high-ranking officers were indicted in March on charges that they ignored an officer consorting with a drug dealer. And Glynn County officers brought no charges in February after Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by white men who armed themselves and pursued him after spotting Arbery running in their neighborhood.

Charges in Arbery’s killing came two months later after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.

The referendum would have let voters decide whether to dissolve the Glynn County police and turn its responsibilities over to Sheriff Neal Jump, who currently oversees the county jail and security for the courthouse.

Glynn County commissioners filed suit to stop the vote, saying it infringed on their authority under Georgia’s constitution to provide police services.

Related: Ahmaud Arbery photos

12 PHOTOSAhmaud ArberySee GalleryAhmaud ArberyLee Merritt, a lawyer representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, poses for a photo by a mural in the likeness of Arbery painted by artist Theo Ponchaveli in Dallas, Saturday, May 9, 2020. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her son, a former high school football player, was jogging for exercise before he was killed on Feb. 23. After a video of the shooting emerged on social media, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, on Wednesday, arrested Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, and they were jailed on murder and aggravated assault charges. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael. The two have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, whom they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 09: Jasmine Arbery, sister of Ahmaud Arbery (R), and Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud’s mother, comfort one another while people gather to honor Ahmaud at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 09: Akeem Baker (R), best friend to Ahmaud Arbery, and Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud’s sister, speak to a crowd gathered to honor the life of Ahmaud at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 09: Umoja Spaulding (L) and Ben Butler run across the Sidney Lanier Bridge to honor Ahmaud Arbery on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 09: People return to their vehicles after gathering to honor the life of Ahmaud Arbery at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 09: People gather to honor Ahmaud Arbery at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 09: Demonstrators raise their fists at a parade of passing motorcyclists riding in honor of Ahmaud Arbery at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 08: A young girl looks at a memorial for Ahmaud Arbery near where he was shot and killed May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder relating to the February 23 shooting in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 08: Gary Arbery, an uncle to Ahmaud Arbery, speaks to demonstrators during a protest of the shooting death of his nephew at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 08: Family of Ahmaud Arbery embrace at the Glynn County Courthouse during a protest of the shooting death of Arbery on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 08: Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)Up Next

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