The Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Thursday night announced the arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery following a storm of public outcry after video of Arbery’s death was made public.
The father and son were both charged with murder and aggravated assault, GBI said in a statement. They will be booked into the Glynn County Jail, according to the bureau. GBI earlier Thursday asked for patience in its investigation, which began Wednesday.
Before GBI began its investigation into Arbery’s death, the Glynn County Police Department contacted the bureau to “investigate allegations of threats against GCPD and individuals involved in the active investigation,” the bureau said in Thursday’s statement.
GBI added the investigation into Arbery’s death remains “active and ongoing.” The case is being investigated with District Attorney Tom Durden, who on Tuesday formally asked the bureau to investigate the death of Arbery.
Attorneys for Arbery’s family believe he was the victim of racial profiling after he was chased down while jogging and shot by two white men in a southern Georgia neighborhood as a third white man recorded the killing on video.
Arbery, 25, was shot and killed Feb. 23. Video of the incidenthas been widely shared on social media.
Ahmaud Arbery shooting:Attorneys, civil rights leaders demand arrests in slaying of Georgia jogger
Gregory McMichael, a 64-year-old former police officer, and his adult son, Travis, 34, were captured on the video, which was taken by Travis’ neighbor, William Bryan.
The three men were in “hot pursuit” of Arbery, according to a memo obtained by USA TODAY, written by the district attorney who previously led the investigation into Arbery’s death. The attorney initially told police he did not see grounds for an arrest of the men, according to the memo.
Here’s what we know about the shooting:
How was Ahmaud Arbery killed?
Arbery’s family says he was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23.
He was shot after two men saw him running in their neighborhood and armed themselves with guns before getting in a truck to pursue him, according to an incident report filed by Glynn County police. They later told police they believed he was a burglary suspect.
Arbery was black; the two men accused of shooting him, as well the man who recorded the video,are white.
The Glynn County Police Department said Thursday that it had no reports involving burglaries or home break-ins in the Satilla Shores neighborhood between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23.
What does the video show?
Video of the incident has been widely shared on social media this week, including by the family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt. In a statement, Merritt, said a “false narrative” had been created that the video disproved.
“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,” Merritt said.
The video,which appears to be shot from a moving vehicle behind the runner, shows a black man jogging on the left side of the two-lane road in broad daylight. A white truck is parked in the road ahead of him; a man stands in the pickup bed and another is standing beside the open driver’s side door.
The runner crosses the road to pass the pickup on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. Shouting can be heard, a gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle. A second shot can be heard and the runner can be seen punching the man. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls face down.
In an internal memo from the district attorney to the Glynn County police department, the district attorney suggests that Bryan was the one who recorded the now viral video.
“The video made by William Bryan clearly shows the shooting in realtime,” Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill wrote in the memo.
Crump, who represents Arbery’s father, on Thursday called for Bryan’s arrest in addition to the two men seen in the video.
According to the police report, Bryan is listed at an address just a few houses down from where Travis McMichael is listed, near where the shooting took place. Bryan could not be reached for comment.
Alan Tucker, a criminal defense lawyer in Brunswick, put out a statement Thursday saying that he released the video.
“My sole purpose in releasing the video was absolute transparency because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions,” Tucker said. “There had been very little information provided by the police department or the district attorney’s office, but there was entirely too much speculation, rumor, false narratives, and outright lies surrounding this event.”
Tucker said that while his firm had not been retained to represent anyone in the case, it “may be.” Tucker said he obtained the video from the person who recorded it on their cell phone.
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Who are Greg and Travis McMichael?
Gregory McMichael said he was in his front yard when he spotted Arbery. He told police that he and his adult son, Travis, thought the man matched someone caught on a security camera committing a recent break-in in the neighborhood, according to the police report.
He and his son grabbed their guns from inside the house because they “didn’t know if the male was armed or not,” according to the police report. The father and son then got in their truck and began chasing Arbery.
Gregory McMichael said Travis got out of the truck with a shotgunand that Arbery “began to violently attack” him and “the two men then started fighting over the shotgun,” the police report said. Gregory McMichael said his son fired two shots, according to the report.
The police report says Gregory McMichael turned Arbery onto his back to see if he was armed – but the report doesn’t say whether he had a weapon or not.
McMichael did not tell police how or when William Bryan became involved in the incident or why he recorded it on video. Bryan is listed on the report as a witness.
Gregory McMichael had recently retired as an investigator in the Brunswick district attorney’s office, according to the memo. He had also worked as an officer in the Glynn County Police Department.
A phone number listed for Gregory McMichael was disconnected on Wednesday. USA TODAY could not find a phone number for Travis McMichael.
What’s being done?
Tom Durden, an outside prosecutor, said Tuesday he plans to have a grand jury hear the evidence in the shooting. A grand jury hearing, however, won’t happen at least until mid-June when Georgia courts reopen from coronavirus restrictions.
Durden has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to look into the case, according to the agency.
The GBI released a statement on the case Thursday evening, saying it was only two days into its investigation and asking for patience from the public.
“The outcome of this incident left more than one victim, and we want to ensure that the family of Ahmaud Arbery is not further traumatized,” the agency said. “When we ask for patience knowing it’s been over two months since the incident, we do so to allow our team to complete the investigation. We know this is difficult and is not only affecting the Brunswick community, or Georgia, but the entire nation.”
A Justice Department spokesman told USA TODAY on Thursday that the FBI is assisting and “as is standard protocol, we look forward to working with them should information come to light of a potential federal violation,”
‘Justice for Ahmaud’
Meanwhile, civil rights groups including the ACLU, NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center have called for justice, likening the incident to the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin in which the killer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted.
“We call on the officials in Brunswick to enforce the rule of law so that it can be safe for citizens to walk the streets,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “Ahmaud was killed three days before the anniversary of the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. Both incidents are a reminder that white supremacy has been a foundation for our country and leads repeatedly to the targeting and harming people of color, particularly African Americans.”
Georgia NAACP President James Woodall called the shooting “white supremacy full on.” He said he is planning a protest Friday at the Glynn County courthouse.
#IRunwithAhumaud: Supporters running 2.23 miles to raise awareness
A dedication run is being organized for Arbery, who supporters say would have turned 26 years old on Friday. They’re organizing a 2.23-mile run for people to complete on their own and share videos and messages on social media. The 2.23 miles signifies Feb. 23, the day he was killed.
Meanwhile, officials, activists and celebrities are speaking out.
NBA star LeBron James expressed outrage over the killing, saying on Twitter that “we’re literally hunted every day/ every time we step foot outside the comfort of our homes.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called for a “swift, full and transparent investigation into his murder.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a former Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter the video “sickens me to my core.”
“Exercising while Black shouldn’t be a death sentence,” she said.
posted by usatoday.com