Ahmaud Arbery: What do we know about the case? – Yahoo News

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Demonstrators watch a parade of motorcyclists riding in honor of Ahmaud Arbery

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.

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. A neighbour who filmed a video of the confrontation, William Bryan, is also under investigation.

On May 11 Georgia appointed a new lead prosecutor in the case - district attorney Joyette Holmes - the fourth since Mr Arbery was killed. Her predecessor had called for a grand jury, but they cannot convene until Covid-19 restrictions ease in June.

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.

Gregory McMichael 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.

An autopsy report showed Mr Arbery had two gunshot wounds in his chest, and a gunshot graze wound on the inside of one of his wrists. He did not have drugs or alcohol in his system.

The delay is in part tied to prosecutor turnover: the case is currently on its third, Tom Durden.

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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, and that as a result there were no grounds for arrest.

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".

Atlanta Attorney General Chris Carr has now formally requested the GBI to look into the conduct of the district attorneys who first handled the case before charges were filed.

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.

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.

The first video surfaced publicly on 5 May. The 36-second clip was filmed from a vehicle following Mr Arbery.

It shows Mr Arbery jogging, and approaching a stationary pickup truck which is ahead of him on the road.

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.

Police are investigating William Bryan, who filmed the first video. Mr Bryan, along with the two McMichael's, appeared to have been following Mr Arbery "in hot pursuit", according to a memo by Mr Barnhill.

However, Mr Bryan told a local TV station that he "had nothing to do with it" and was in "complete shock".

He did not answer questions on why he was there or why he started recording, but his lawyer said: "My client was responding to what he saw, which was someone in the community he didn't know being followed by a vehicle he recognised."

Around the time of the incident, a number of emergency calls were made, CBS News has reported. In one, a neighbour said a black man was seen at a home under construction. When asked if the man was breaking in, the caller replied "No, it's all open, it's under construction."

The caller then said that the man was "running down the street".

The dispatcher says "I just need to know what he was doing wrong. Was he just on the premises and not supposed to be?" and the caller replies: "He's been caught on the camera a bunch before at night. It's kind of an ongoing thing out here."

The owner of the home that was under construction told CNN that, while his CCTV captured four short clips of a man that appeared to be Mr Arbery "trespassing" on his properly on 23 February, he had not reported any crime to the police.

"I don't want it to be put out and misused and misinterpreted for people to think that I had accused Mr Arbery of stealing or robbery, because I never did," he said.

Police records show only one burglary report in the neighbourhood between 1 January and 23 February, US media report. That incident involved a gun being reported stolen from a pickup truck outside the home of Travis McMichael on 1 January.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Ahmaud Arbery: What do we know about the case? - Yahoo News

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