Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in February when he was confronted by Gregory and Travis McMichael. Mr Arbery was fatally shot during the encounter. Now, over two months later, the pair have been arrested.
Here’s what we know about the case.
What’s the status of the investigation?
Gregory, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, are in the custody of the Glynn County Sheriff’s Department. They were detained by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) on 7 May.
The father-son pair face murder and aggravated assault charges.
The GBI has said the investigation is ongoing. More arrests could be coming. The individual who filmed the video – another local man – is also under investigation.
Tom Durden, the Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney in charge of the case, has called for a grand jury, but they cannot convene until Covid-19 restrictions ease in June.
How did Arbery die?
In the afternoon on 23 February, Mr Arbery was out for a jog in the coastal city of Brunswick.
At one point, he entered the Satilla Shores neighbourhood.
A neighbourhood resident, Gregory McMichael, told police he believed Mr Arbery resembled the suspect in a series of local break-ins.
Police have said no reports were filed regarding these alleged break-ins.
He and his son, Travis, armed themselves with a pistol and a shotgun and pursued Mr Arbery in a pickup truck through the neighbourhood.
According to the elder Mr McMichael, he and his son had said “stop, stop, we want to talk to you”.
He said Mr Arbery then attacked his son. Lawyers for Mr Arbery’s family have said the 25-year-old was unarmed.
Three shots were fired and Mr Arbery fell down on the street.
Why did their arrest take so long?
The delay is in part tied to prosecutor turnover: the case is currently on its third, Tom Durden.
Two local district attorneys recused themselves due to professional connections to the elder Mr McMichael.
Officials have also publicly disagreed over whether there were orders to not arrest the pair.
Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson – whose office initially handled the case – has been accused by two county commissioners of not allowing police to arrest the McMichaels immediately after the shooting.
Mr McMichael had been previously employed by her office.
But Ms Johnson has denied the claim, and said no prosecutors in her office told law enforcement not to arrest them. She blamed local police for not deciding what to do.
The second district attorney involved, Waycross Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, had told police he believed the father and son had used citizen’s arrest rights in confronting the jogger.
Mr Barnhill recused himself, citing concerns raised by the victim’s mother over his ties to Mr McMichael.
Mr Arbery’s family have criticised prosecutors’ handling of the case as a “cover-up” and asked for an inquiry.
What are McMichael’s ties to local law enforcement?
Gregory McMichael was a former police detective.
He also worked as an investigator for the local district attorney for years and had retired in 2019.
Who was Arbery?
A former star high school football player, his father said he often exercised in the area.
His family has described him as a good, generous young man with a big heart. He would have turned 26 this month.
When Mr Arbery was in high school, he received five years probation for a first-time weapons charge and in 2018, was convicted of probation violation for shop lifting according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper.
Mr McMichael was reportedly involved in that 2018 case.
What are the two videos in the case?
The first video surfaced publicly on 5 May. The 36-second clip was filmed from a vehicle following the pickup truck said to be involved in the incident.
It shows a man jogging and approaching the stationary pickup from behind.
He tries to bypass the truck and then is seen struggling with a man carrying a shotgun. There is muffled shouting and three gunshots are heard.
A second man is standing in the bed of the pickup. The second man is then shown with a pistol standing alongside the other armed man with the jogger no longer in view.
On 10 May another video emerged, showing a man believed to Mr Arbery at a home construction site shortly before the shooting.
In the footage from a surveillance camera, a black man in a white T-shirt walks onto the site and is seen looking around for a few minutes before leaving and jogging down the street.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Mr Arbery’s family, said in a statement that it was Mr Arbery in the clip, and that it confirms the young man was out for a jog and did nothing illegal.
Around the time of the incident, a number of emergency calls were made, CBS News had reported earlier. In one, a neighbour said a black man was seen at a home under construction, and later “running down the street”.
What do the McMichaels say?
The McMichaels have not issued a statement to US media. It remains unclear if they are represented by an attorney at this time.
But in their account to police, Mr McMichael alleges the jogger attacked his son in the road after they tried to stop him, and that they acted out of self-defence.
What does Arbery’s family say?
Mr Arbery’s family has called his death a “lynching”.
His parents said the arrest of the McMichaels was a relief, but they have expressed a distrust of local law enforcement.
His mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, told PBS News: “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, a lawyer for the family, has asked for the same justice for Mr Arbery if the situations were reversed and two black men had attacked an unarmed white man.
“We know beyond a shadow of a doubt they would’ve been arrested on day one,” Mr Crump said.
What’s the law in Georgia?
Under the citizen’s arrest law, an individual can detain someone they have seen committing a serious crime and if the suspect is trying to escape.
Local media note that the law does not always allow deadly force in carrying out an arrest – that’s limited to self-defense or times where it is absolutely necessary to prevent certain serious crimes.
Will the federal government get involved?
While Georgia is one of four states that has no hate crime statutes, the federal government can file those charges.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said its civil rights division, the FBI, and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting the state investigation.
“We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crime charges are appropriate,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr has also asked the department to investigate the handling of the case.
The DOJ said on Monday it has requested Mr Carr send any information he has to federal authorities.
The case has also prompted members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus to renew calls for a state hate crime law.
Source: Read Full Article