One year after 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery was chased and shot to death in a Georgia suburb, his mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the three white men accused of murdering him.
Wanda Cooper-Jones is seeking more than $1 million in damages in a U.S. District Court lawsuit filed Tuesday, which accuses the three men charged with killing him, and local authorities who initially handled his death, of violating his civil rights.
Attorneys for the men charged with killing Arbery say they suspected he was a burglar and have pleaded not guilty. The federal suit alleges that local officers and prosecutors tried to cover-up the killing to protect one of the accused, a retired cop and former investigator for the prosecutor's office.
The officials participated in a “deliberate effort to cover up Ahmaud’s murder,” the suit said. “For nearly three months, Glynn County police officers, the chief of police, and two prosecutors conspired to hide the circumstances surrounding Ahmaud’s death and to protect the men who murdered him,” the complaint claims.
Former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill are named in suit, accused of failing to charge the men responsible for Arbery's death. Both later recused themselves from the case and have denied any wrongdoing.
Travis McMichael and his father, George, are charged with murder in the Feb. 23 shooting that occurred while Arbery was jogging in their predominately white neighborhood. Travis shot Arbery three times with a shotgun at close range, authorities said. William Bryan a neighbor, is also charged with murder and hit Arbery with his truck as the three chased him, with the McMichaels in one truck, and Bryan in another, state investigators have testified.
George McMichael has previously said Arbery, who was not armed, was attacking his son when he was shot.
Arbery had been dead for two months when cellphone video shot by Bryan surfaced online and in media reports on May 5, prompting a national outcry. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case the next day, and quickly arrested the three men.
Travis McMichael had stood over Arbery as he lay dying and called him a "f*****g n****r," according to testimony given in June during preliminary hearings for three suspects.
Georgia Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial testified that Bryan told investigators that Travis McMichael uttered the slur after shooting Arbery.
Specially appointed prosecutors have said Arbery had done nothing wrong and was just out running when the McMichaels and Bryan started chasing him. They remain jailed without bond.
An anniversary march and memorial run have been organized for Tuesday by the 2:23 Foundation, a group founded to fight systemic racism, The Associated Press reported.