GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will join the investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black man who was running in a southeast Georgia neighborhood.
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed Feb. 23 when he was shot by a man in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, according to a Glynn County police report.
The shooter, Travis McMichael, and his father, Gregory McMichael, both white, said they thought Arbery was a suspect connected to recent burglaries and they were trying to make a citizens arrest when there was a struggle over a shotgun.
Arbery’s family and friends say the 25-year-old was just out for a jog and believe the shooting was racially motivated. No one has been arrested or charged in the case yet.
Newly-released video of the shooting has sparked outrage and protests.
Channel 2 Action News is not airing the entire video, due to its graphic depiction of Arbery’s death, but family attorney S. Lee Merritt confirms that it shows the young man running through the neighborhood that February afternoon.
In the video, a white pickup truck is stopped in the middle of the street ahead of Arbery. The 25-year-old appears to run around the truck and seconds later he and Travis McMichael appear to begin fighting over the shotgun.
A struggle ensued and at least three gunshots can be heard before the video shows Arbery falling to the ground. Gregory McMichael claims that Arbery violently attacked his son.
It’s unclear who recorded the video.
“I don’t know who shot the video. I have an idea because he is mentioned in the police report listed as a third party. But I have not confirmed that he was the one who actually recorded the video,” Merritt told ABC News in an interview Tuesday.
“My kid was murdered,” his father Marcus Arbery told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s all I can say. He ran like that every day – all his life. He ran in his neighborhood and that one too. That’s the only place he ever had a problem.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, said she doesn’t think she can ever watch the video.
“I don’t think I’ll evere prepare myself mentally to look at the video,” she said at a news conference Wednesday. “My son was not committing a crime. He was just jogging and his life shouldn’t have ended the way it ended.”
McMichael nor his son have been arrested or charged.
The GBI announced late Tuesday night it has been requested to assist with the investigation. Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said they expect justice to be served.
“Director Reynolds has offered resources & manpower to D.A. Durden to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery,” Kemp said in a tweet. “Georgians deserve answers. State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served.”
“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,” Carr said. “I expect justice to be carried out as swiftly as possible, and I stand ready to support GBI Director Reynolds, DA Durden and the local community.”
Liberty County District Attorney Tom Durden said he will present the case to a grand jury to decide if charges should be made. Merrit said he wants the Department of justice to take over the case. If the DOJ doesn’t take the case, Merritt would like the state to appoint a special prosecutor.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the situation is tragic and happens too often.
“It’s a tragedy and it’s a story we hear all too often, that men of color are targeted, and that their lives are taken,” Bottoms said. “We’ve got to have very real conversations about race, about, as a country, as a whole, what our underlying biases are and how those play out?”
Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at the state Capitol Wednesday as protesters gathered to demand arrests.
Attorney Brian Ponder, who organized the protest, said he wanted to raise awareness.
“We’re going to walk and run in his spirit, because that is what he was doing when he was murdered,” Ponder said.
Ponder said he learned about the case a couple of weeks ago and he studied the police report and the 911 call and wrote a letter to the chief of Glynn County Police demanding someone be held accountable. Ponder said it’s clear Arbrey was cornered and attacked.
“It confirmed my though that he was murdered,” Ponder said. “It’s all speculation until you see it on video. And he was certainly targeted by them. It’s very disturbing.”
Protesters met outside of Carr’s office to deliver a message to him.
“This is not OK here,” Ponder said. “I’m not just going to stand by and not say anything and be silent. It’s Ahmaud Arbery today, but could be any of us tomorrow.”
Carr has promised to present the case to the next available grand jury, but protesters are demanding action now.
“There’s no reason to wait,” Ponder said. “You don’t need a D.A., a grand jury. You need to go make an arrest today.”
If not, Ponder said he will take the next demonstration straight to Glynn County.
During a protest in the neighborhood where the shooting happened Tuesday, county sheriff Neil Jump talked to the crowd.
“If that was my son, I’d be upset,” Jump said. “I can only imagine what the mother and dad are going through.”
Grand juries are suspended in Georgia until at least July due to COVID-19.
By: WSBTV.com News Staff
Updated: May 6, 2020 – 12:48 PM