Ahmaud Arbery shooting: Three men indicted on murder charges over death of jogger

Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan could face life in prison or death penalty

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 24 June 2020 17:17 BST
Ahmaud Arbery's death draws protests in Atlanta

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A grand jury in Georgia has indicted three men on felony murder charges in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

The indictments for Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan arrived nearly four months after the men followed Mr Arbery while he was jogging through a Georgia neighbourhood then shot him at point-blank range.

A Glynn County grand jury's indictments formally charge the men with malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. They could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.

"This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud," said Cobb County District Attorney Joyette M Holmes. "Our team from the Cobb Judicial Circuit has been committed to effectively bringing forward the evidence in this case and today was no exception."

The McMichaels, who are white, were arrested more than two months following Mr Arbery's death after a mobile phone video of the killing leaked online and sparked an international outrage and allegations of a modern-day lynching of Mr Arbery, a 25-year-old black man.

On 23 February, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis armed themselves before hopping into a pickup truck and chasing Mr Arbery, who was jogging from a nearby construction site in Satilla Shores outside of Brunswick, Georgia.

Prosecutors argue that Mr Bryan joined the men and helped box Mr Arbery between two trucks before Travis McMichael fired a shotgun three times into Mr Arbery. The elder McMichael told investigators he believed Mr Arbery was a robbery suspect seen at a neighbourhood property under construction, though an attorney for the the property owner told The Independent that no robberies were ever reported and the family has condemned the "vigilante response" and killing of Mr Arbery.

No charges were filed for several weeks until a video of the killing was widely shared on social media. The McMichaels were arrested on 7 May.

Mr Bryan, who lives in the neighbourhood and filmed the killing, was arrested on 22 May.

The men have not entered a plea and their arraignments are not yet scheduled. The Associated Press reports that Travis McMichael intends to plead not guilty to the charges in the latest indictment.

During preliminary hearings earlier this month to support murder charges against the men, Georgia prosecutors argued that Mr Bryan heard the shooter say "f***ing n-word" as he stood over Mr Arbery's body.

Prosecutors also discovered a Confederate flag sticker on a toolbox in Mr Michael's truck, they said.

While Mr Bryan's defence argues he was only a witness to the killing, prosecutor Richard Dial told the court that he yelled "do you got him" to the McMichaels before he joined the chase.

Mr Bryan "made several statements about trying to block him in and using his vehicle to try to stop him," Mr Dial said. "His statement was that Mr Arbery kept jumping out of the way and moving around the bumper and actually running down into the ditch in an attempt to avoid his truck."

International outrage and demands for justice following the release of graphic footage of Mr Arbery's death preceded global protests urging for racial justice in the wake of police killings of George Floyd and black Americans.

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