According to CNN, Bobby Christine, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, met with attorney S. Lee Merritt on Thursday to discuss the case and told him about the decision to look into the death as a hate crime.
The Justice Department declined to comment when asked about the move on Tuesday. After facing withering criticism from the public following the release of the video showing Travis and Gregory McMichael shooting Arbery to death, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice confirmed it was looking into the case.
It took more than two months for both Travis and Gregory to be arrested and charged for killing Arbery. The man who took the video of the shooting, William Bryan Jr., was only arrested last week, as Blavity previously reported.
The man who filmed the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery has been charged with murder.
Arbery died after being shot by two white men while jogging in his neighborhood. The men were arrested a couple days after the video was made public — over two months after the killing. pic.twitter.com/7tu97rN3hN
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 21, 2020
According to CBS News, Georgia is one of five states that does not have a hate crime statute that allows racially motivated crimes to be treated more harshly. Hate crime legislation passed in the state’s lower House but has been stuck in the state Senate because of delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Original (May 6, 2020): A Georgia prosecutor is now hoping a grand jury will determine if two men will face charges after a video shows them firing fatal shots at a 25-year-old Black man who they thought was a burglar, The New York Times reports.
The video posted to Twitter on Tuesday shows Ahmaud Arbery being confronted by two men with guns after they chased him in a white pickup truck down a Georgia road. Prosecutors are now hoping the video will suffice for a grand jury to determine if charges should be filed.
Trigger warning: the below video contains disturbing content.
NEWS: Graphic video appears to show Ahmaud Arbery, 25 of GA., whose family says he was out for a run, confronted by 2 men who shot him dead saying they thought he was a burglar. A prosecutor wants a grand jury to decide whether the men should be charged. pic.twitter.com/kEYYJW7UlM
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) May 5, 2020
Tom Durden, the district attorney pro tempore, released a statement saying the case "should be presented to the grand jury of Glynn County for consideration of criminal charges against those involved in the death of Mr. Arbery."
Despite Durden's desire to present the case to a grand jury, he said courts in Georgia "are prohibited from empaneling grand or trial juries" due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 25-year-old's family is hoping the case will go before a grand jury.
"The series of events captured in this video confirm what all the evidence indicated prior to its release— Ahmaud Arbery was pursued by three white men that targeted him solely because of his race and murdered him," Lee Merritt, the attorney for Arbery's mom, said in a statement.
In a statement, Merritt said the video was captured on a cell phone and was later posted anonymously to the internet. The attorney said despite the family's requests to view the video, which has allegedly been in possession of law enforcement since the day of the shooting, they were denied.
Merritt said as a result of police denying them the chance to view the clip, the family saw the shooting for the first time on the internet.
Arbery was gunned down by Gregory and Travis McMichael as he was jogging down the street on February 23, as Blavity previously reported.
According to the family's attorney, Arbery had not committed any crime despite the suspects' beliefs. Merritt said the withholding of the video clip allowed for a false narrative to be configured about Arbery.
Although court proceedings have been suspended temporarily, Merritt has called for the arrest of the two men.