A district attorney in Brunswick, Ga., is recommending that a grand jury review the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as disturbing footage surfaced online on Tuesday (May 5). The gruesome cell phone recording shows Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old father who was out for a jog, being chased by a group of white men before being shot to death.
The men in question, father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael’s, were not arrested and alleged self defense.
“I am of the opinion that 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,” Tom Durden, District Attorney Pro Temper for Brunswick Judicial Circuit wrote in a press release.
On the afternoon of Feb. 23, Arbery was jogging through a Brunswick neighborhood when he was followed and killed by the McMichaels. Travis, who has been confirmed as the shooter, claimed that he was acting within the scope of a citizen’s arrest.
Durden began investigating the case last month, after Arbery’s mother pointed out a conflict of interest that resulted in George E. Barnhill, D.A. for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, recusing himself from the case. Barnhill’s son worked in the D.A.’s office where Gregory retired from “some time ago,” Barnhill wrote in a letter to the Glynn County Police Department where he concluded that there was “no grounds for an arrest.”
A third man, Brian Williams, was named along with the McMichael’s for chasing Arbery with “solid first-hand probable cause,” claimed Barnhill.
According to the New York Times, 64-year-old Gregory told police that Arbery looked like an alleged robbery suspect when he spotted him running through the suburban neighborhood. The elder McMichael, and 34-year-old Travis, grabbed their weapons — a .375 magnum revolver and a shot gun — hopped in their pick up truck and chased down, cornered, and killed Arbery. Footage from the incident shows Arbery outnumbered as he struggled to get the shotgun out of the younger McMichael’s hands before a shot is heard. Travis, who reportedly works for a company that conducts boating tours, fires off two more shots killing Arbery, who attempts to run for his life before collapsing.
Gregory told police that his son fired the fatal shots after being “violently attacked” by Arbery, claims of which are easily disproven in the video.
The heinous murder occurred a few weeks before Georgia inflicted mandatory stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down courts and stopped Arbery’s family from holding a small protest in hopes of bringing more attention to his murder. “We thought about walking out where the shooting occurred, just doing a little march, but we can’t be out right now,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, said at the time.
Georgia’s courts remain closed until June 13.
Video of the murder was given to Brunswick radio station WGIG by an “anonymous source,” and published on Tuesday. In light of the footage going viral, a lawyer for Arbery’s family is again demanding that immediate arrest of the McMichaels.
“Mr. Arbery had not committed any crime and there was no reason for these men to believe they had the right to stop him with weapons or to use deadly force in furtherance of their unlawful attempted stop. This is murder,” reads a statement from attorney S. Lee Merritt.
The statement adds that the men targeted Arbery “solely because of his race and murdered him without justification.”
Hear more from Merritt in the video below.
We cannot wait until a Grand Jury convenes to arrest these men. The Department of Justice must take over this case and bring all parties involved, including the officials that ratified these men’s behavior, up on federal hate crime charges. pic.twitter.com/TQUCTUgYM7
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) May 5, 2020