Ahmaud Arbery Shooting: What to Know in Shooting Death of Black Jogger
Three white men have been arrested on murder charges for the shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
On Feb. 23, on a bright Sunday afternoon in a southern Georgia neighborhood near the coastal city of Brunswick, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was out running when he was confronted by two armed white men. Gregory McMichael, 64,a former cop and investigator for the local district attorney's office, was carrying a Glock handgun. His son, Travis, 34, was toting a shotgun. Arbery was shot three times by Travis, authorities said, and bled to death in the road.
A third man, William "Roddie" Bryan, 50, who was following Arbery in a second vehicle, videotaped the confrontation on his phone, and had helped chase Arbery through the neighborhood and at one point, struck Arbery with his truck, investigators would allege weeks later.
It took two months for murder charges to be filed in the case. The charges were filed just days after Bryan's graphic video of the encounter surfaced on social media May 5 and immediately went viral. The images prompted a national outcry for arrests.
Here is what we know about the case.
The day Arbery was shot to death
Arbery, his family said, was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. George McMichael told police he believed Arbery was responsible for a series of alleged break-ins in the area, and he and his son, Travis, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pick-up truck.
After shouting at the man to stop, the elder McMichael told investigators, Arbery attacked Travis and the two struggled over the shotgun. Travis shot the man twice, his father said. According to police report filed after the incident, Arbery "bled out" in the street.
No charges were filed and the McMichaels were released from the scene, as was Bryan.
An autopsy showed Arbery suffered three shots, two in the chest and once by round that grazed his wrist.
Why did the arrests take two months?
Turnover in the district attorney's office is partly responsible. The case is currently on its fourth prosecutor.
The Georgia Attorney General has announced that Joyette Holmes of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit would replace special prosecutor Tom Durden.
After the video surfaced, Durden said he would take the case to a grand jury, but coronavirus regulations have closed local courthouses.
Two local district attorneys previously recused themselves, citing conflict of interest concerns because the elder McMichael had worked in their office.
Local officials have publicly disagreed over whether there were orders issued to not arrest the father and son.
Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, whose office initially handled the case, has been accused by two county commissioners of barring police from making arrests immediately after the shooting.
Johnson has denied the claim, saying no one in her office told officers to not make arrests. She blamed local police for not taking action on the killing.
Atlanta Attorney General Chris Carr has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which filed charges less than two days after joining the case, to look into the conduct of the initial two prosecutors who reviewed the case.
Attorneys for the elder McMichael said in a statement that their client "did not commit murder," pointing out that he's been charged as party to the crime. The attorneys, Frank and Laura Hogue, said they are aware of "several other critically important facts" that portray "a very different narrative" for the killing.
Travis McMichael's attorneys made similar comments, saying he had "been vilified before his voice could even be heard."
"The truth in this case will exonerate Travis," the statement said.
On May 21, state investigators announced Bryan, the Georgia man who filmed the shooting on his cellphone had been arrested. Bryan was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.
According to arrest warrants filed by the GBI, Bryan "did attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority, by attempting to confine Arbery utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions during the above time frame, with the intention of confining and detaining Arbery."
At a June 4 court hearing, a GBI investigator testified that Travis McMichael said "f*****g n****r," as he stood over a dying Arbery, according to a police statement from Bryan.
In an interview with a local TV station before his arrest, Bryan said, “I had nothing to do with it. I’m trying to get my life back to normal, and it’s been smeared for the last week. I was told I was a witness and I’m not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats.”
What does Arbery's family say?
The family of Ahmaud Arbery has called his death a "lynching," as have several politicians, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, told PBS: "I honestly think that if we didn't get national attention to it, my son's death would have actually been a cover-up."
Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing some of Arbery's relatives, has said if the circumstances were reversed, and two black men had shot to death an unarmed white man, criminal charges would have been swiftly filed.
"We know beyond a shadow of a doubt they would've been arrested on day one," Crump said.
On Friday, the McMichaels and Bryan are expected to appear in court for an arraignment hearing. There, the three will be formally charged.
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