Madeline Sponsler, FISM News
A Georgia man on his jogging route was followed, shot, and killed by two men who later told the police that Mr. Arbery looked like the suspect in a string of break-ins. No charges or arrests have been made in relation to the incident, which happened on February 23rd. The case received little national attention at first, but concerned activist groups and community members have since questioned if the shooting was racially motivated and whether the state’s self-defense and citizen’s arrest laws are being upheld or abused.
According to the police report, Gregory McMichael said he saw Arbery run by his house and that he recognized him from the break-ins. After calling in to notify a police dispatcher that he’d suspected Arbery, McMichael and his 34-year-old son Travis proceeded to grab a shotgun and a pistol, get into their truck to follow Arbery.
He told police they saw Arbery on the road and pulled alongside him, shouting “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you!”
McMichael said his son got out of the truck with the shotgun and that Arbery “began to violently attack” and “the two men then started fighting over the shotgun,”. Shots were fired from the shotgun and Arbery was killed.
“There’s more than enough evidence for a case for murder,” Lee Merrit, an attorney for the deceased man’s family told CBS news. The lawyer says he suspects no indictments have been made in the case in part because Gregory McMichael previously worked for the Brunswick police department district attorney’s office.
Ms. Cooper pushed for Mr. Barnhill, a veteran prosecutor to recuse himself from the after she learned that he had personal vocation connections with McMichael. The Brunswick district attorney, Jackie Johnson, also recused herself early on because Gregory McMichael had worked in her office.
After Mr. Barnhill recused himself, the case was turned over to an outside prosecutor, Tom Durden of Hinesville, Georgia. Since evaluating the evidence, Durden has decided to take the evidence to a grand jury. Georgia courts remain largely closed because of the coronavirus until at least June 13.
This week, graphic video footage of this incident was released. The footage, which was taken by an unidentified witness in another car, shows Arbery jogging down a narrow two-lane road and around a white pickup truck stopped in the right lane, its driver’s door open.
As Arbery crosses back in front of the truck a gunshot is fired. Arbery is then seen struggling with a man holding a long gun as a second man stands in the bed of the truck brandishing a revolver. Two more shots are heard before Arbery stumbles and falls face-down onto the asphalt.
Gregory McMichael said Arbery began to “violently attack” his son and fought over the shotgun, prompting Travis to open fire. It is not clear from the police report or the videotape if Gregory McMichael also fired on Arbery.
Sourced from Richard Fausset/The New York Times, CBS News