Three Men Involved In The Killing Of Ahmaud Arbery Have Been Indicted On Murder Charges
The three men involved have been in custody since last month after being arrested.
At a press conference, Cobb District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes announced that Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan were indicted by Glynn County's Grand Jury on malice and felony murder charges.
All three men have been in jail without bond since being arrested back in May, as Blavity previously reported.
Holmes said the men were indicted on nine counts, including criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, according to NPR.
"This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud. Our team from the Cobb Judicial Circuit has been committed to effectively bringing forward the evidence in this case, and today was no exception," Holmes said in a statement.
"We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues," she added.
NPR reported the coronavirus has slowed down legal proceedings, however, the grand jury finally met in person on Wednesday.
Original (April 27, 2020): Ahmaud Arbery was believed to be just jogging in a quiet suburban neighborhood when he was pursued, shot and killed by a white resident and their father who suspected him of committing robberies in the area. Now, his family is worried the case won’t get the attention they believe it deserves because of social distancing orders.
Arbery was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood, near his home in Brunswick, Georgia, when he passed Travis McMichael’s home. Arbery's family believes he had left his home to exercise while others speculate he could’ve been engaging in an unseemly activity. Travis’ father, Gregory McMichael was standing in the front yard and called out to his son after seeing Arbery. Travis emerged from the home, and the father and son duo grabbed their guns and followed the 25-year-old in their truck, according to The Brunswick News.
“Stop, stop. We want to talk to you,” they said to Arbery.
After a struggle over the shotgun with Travis, Arbery was shot at least twice and killed.
According to a police report, Gregory told the police that Arbery looked like the suspect in a number of break-ins, but the former high school football star’s mother believes her son was judged because of the color of his skin, reports The New York Times.
No one has been charged or arrested in connection with the killing.
George E. Barnhill, a prosecutor in the case, told the police in a letter that Gregory and Travis acted within the state’s citizen’s arrest law and Travis acted out of self-defense.
Moments before the interaction that led to the killing, a resident of Satilla Shores called 911 and said a Black man in a white t-shirt was in a house that was under construction and partially closed in.
“And he’s running right now,” the man told the 911 dispatcher. “There he goes right now.”
Arbery was wearing a white t-shirt, khaki shorts, Nike sneakers and a bandana at the time of the incident, according to The Times.
Barnhill wrote he did not believe the shooting was criminal, as Gregory and Travis had been legally carrying their firearms. Because Arbery was a “burglary suspect,” according to Barnhill, Travis and Gregory had “solid firsthand probable cause” and were justified in chasing him under citizen’s arrest laws.
Wanda Cooper, Arbery’s mother, does not believe her son committed a crime. If he had “he should have been handled by the police,” she said.
In a separate document, Barnhill said a video of Arbery “burglarizing a home immediately preceding the chase and confrontation” exists, according to The Times.
Activists say even if Arbery was attempting to commit a crime that day, he should not have been chased by the father and son.
“This incident was at the least a case of overly zealous citizens that wrongfully profiled the victim without cause,” said Reverend John Davis Perry II, the president of the Brunswick chapter of the NAACP. “These men felt justified in taking the law in their own hands.”
Arbery was killed three days before the eighth anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin. Martin, who was 17 years old at the time, was walking from a 7-Eleven when George Zimmerman called the police and claimed the teen looked suspicious. A series of robberies had taken place in the gated community where the shooting took place, according to Reuters. Despite 911 operators telling Zimmerman not to approach Martin, he pursued the teenager and fatally shot him. Zimmerman cited self-defense and was acquitted in 2013 by a jury on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws, reports CNN.
Barnhill, who is the district attorney for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, has since been recused from the case after Arbery’s family said he had a conflict of interest. Cooper learned that Barnhill’s son works in the Brunswick district attorney’s office, which had previously employed Gregory.
Friends and family of Arbery are now worried the case won’t get attention beyond the Georgia city.
“We can’t do anything because of this corona stuff,” said Cooper. “We thought about walking out where the shooting occurred, just doing a little march but we can’t be out right now.”
Activists in and around Brunswick have been using resources available amid the pandemic in order to raise awareness. They started a Facebook page as well as a pressure campaign. They are emailing law enforcement officials and the local newspaper.
#IRunWithMaud— Elizabeth Zanath (@Lizlatham97) April 24, 2020
On Feb 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered in the streets of Brunswick, GA by a man and son duo who HUNTED him down. Literally hunted him down. Because they saw him running down their street. The street that this man has run several times for a workout. pic.twitter.com/pGYjyl0Kr0
Brunswick, GA , On Feb 23, 2020,— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) April 25, 2020
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was out on a workout run. He was murdered after being racially profiled by a retired district attorney investigator Greg McMichael and his adult son. They HUNTED him down. Shot him twice. He bled out and died. 💔#IRunWithMaud pic.twitter.com/yId2EcE7qH
“There are a lot of people absolutely ready to protest,” said Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s former football coach. “But because of social distancing and being safe, we have to watch what’s going on with the coronavirus.”
The case has now been assigned to Tom Durden who will decide if it will be presented to a grand jury. He said he and his team had started reviewing the evidence.
Activists have planned to drive to Durden’s office in Hinesville and will enter the building one by one, in order to keep with social distancing orders, and ask why Gregory and Travis have yet to be arrested.
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested Arbery was out because he was going for a run. Although his family has stated their belief that he was exercising, it has not yet been confirmed.