Written by Ann Brown
May 06, 2020
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is calling for justice after the video of a young Black man being viciously murdered in Georgia was released. In the clip, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, is seen jogging. He is approached by two white men and shot to death. Arbery is unarmed.
Arbery died more than two months ago but two men, one of them a former cop, still have not faced repercussions.
Here’s what we know. On Feb. 23 in mid-afternoon, Gregory McMichael, 64, who is a former police officer, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, reportedly confronted Arbery because they suspected he was a burglar in the suburban neighborhood of Satilla Shores, Georgia. Arbery was unarmed and reportedly jogging through the quiet neighborhood, BET reported.
The father and son spotted Arbery, armed themselves with a .357 magnum and a shotgun, got into a pickup truck, and went after Arbery, according to the police report. They caught up with Arbery and shot and killed him.
Neither has been arrested or charged.
George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Ga., said the McMichaels had the right to pursue “a burglary suspect” and “allowed to use deadly force to protect himself” under Georgia law, the New York Times reported.
Barnhill has since recused himself from the case but only after Arbery’s mother argued that Barnhill was employed in the same office where Georgry McMichael once worked when he was a police officer, according to the Times.
Arbery had been a high school football standout who was living with his mother in coastal Glynn County, Georgia. He often jogged to stay in shape, his family said.
Court records show that Arbery was convicted of shoplifting and of violating probation in 2018. In 2013, he was indicted on charges of taking a handgun to a high school basketball game, according to The Brunswick News.
In a letter explaining why he did not prosecute the father and son in Arbery’s murder, Barnhill mentions these two prior offenses by Arbery. He also alluded to Arbery having mental issues, an accusation which seems to have come from nowhere, The Daily Beast reported. There also seems to be no evidence Arbery had ever been involved in a burglary.
Gregory McMichael is a former Glynn County police officer. He is also a former investigator with the local district attorney’s office and retired last May, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Biden tweeted, “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.”
Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney and lawyer for Arbery’s family, said in a statement, “This is murder. The series of events captured in this video confirm what all the evidence indicated prior to its release.”
Georgia’s attorney general’s office assigned the case to a third prosecutor, Tom Durden, who in a recent interview with The Times, said he would be looking at the case with fresh eyes. “We don’t know anything about the case,” he said. “We don’t have any preconceived idea about it.”
People in Arbery’s community have been protesting and demanding legal actions against his killers.
“It’s murder. It’s heartbreaking to even look at. The whole city has seen it,” Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt, told The Daily Beast. “Right now we just have to stay calm because it’s a graphic video, it was very painful to watch, and we know what we knew the other day: one man was murdered, and two men are out.”
Here's the statement from the district attorney who was brought in to oversee the case and decide how and whether the case should be prosecuted.— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) May 5, 2020
Also, here's a news report about what happened: https://t.co/SAE4Dotsis pic.twitter.com/A3pcLM4BP4
The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder. https://t.co/alvY5WjdHx— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 6, 2020
Tom Durden is the DA tasked with giving justice to this community. He says his hands are tied b/c due to the corona virus. That is a lie. Durden can indict these men directly without a grand jury. You can help make that happen by visiting https://t.co/f8wpgfUTp9 pic.twitter.com/L3piDTVJL4— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) May 6, 2020