Killing of unarmed black jogger caught on video sparks outcry

by Adam Ford · May 7th, 2020 10:52 am

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was jogging through a Georgia neighborhood on February 23 when two men — who claim he looked like a suspect from security camera footage who had committed several recent burglaries in the area — armed themselves and gave chase in a vehicle. The two men, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, attempted to stop Arbery, at which point a struggle ensued over the younger McMichael's shotgun, and he fired, killing Arbery.

Outrage has erupted after a video of the shooting surfaced Tuesday [warning: graphic]:

The police report states that Gregory McMichael, who is a former investigator with the local district attorney, claimed that Arbery "began to violently attack Travis and the two men then started fighting over the shotgun" at which point Travis shot Arbery in self-defense.

Arbery was black and the McMichaels are white.

The AP reports:

No arrests have been made or charges filed in coastal Glynn County more than two months after the killing. An outside prosecutor in charge of the case said he wants a grand jury to decide whether criminal charges are warranted. That won't happen until at least mid-June, since Georgia courts remain largely closed because of the coronavirus.

Attorneys for Arbery's family said the father and son, who have acknowledged in a police report grabbing guns and pursuing Arbery in a truck after seeing him running in their neighborhood, should be arrested now before a grand jury decides whether to indict them — as often happens in criminal cases.

District Attorney George Barnhill, who had the case before recusing himself, argued in a letter that there was not sufficient probable cause to arrest the McMichaels, saying they were legally carrying their firearms and were within their rights to pursue what he called "a burglary suspect." He cited a state law that states, "A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge." Barnhill also said that if Arbery attacked Travis McMichael, McMichael was legally "allowed to use deadly force to protect himself."

Georgia law says a person can kill in self-defense "only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury ... or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." The law also says, however, that a person who provokes an attack or acts as "the aggressor" cannot claim self-defense.

Following the video's release, a large crowd of demonstrators marched in the neighborhood where Arbery was killed, and the state opened its own investigation, which the governor and attorney general pledged to support.

Arbery's mother's lawyer called the shooting "a modern lynching in the middle of the day" and has called for the Justice Department to investigate the death as a hate crime. Family members of the slain man have called for the McMichaels to be arrested immediately.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, said in a statement:

"Based on the video footage and news reports that I have seen, I am deeply concerned with the events surrounding the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. I expect justice to be carried out as swiftly as possible."

Supporters are gathering on Friday, which would have been Arbery's 26th birthday, to run 2.23 miles, representing the date of his death, in his honor.


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