3 charged with hate crimes in Ahmaud Arbery case

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Three Georgia men were indicted today by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia and charged with hate crimes and the attempted kidnapping of Ahmaud Arbery.

The indictment also charges two of the men with separate counts of using firearms during that crime of violence against Arbery.

National protests over the slayings of Black people were fueled by the February death of the avid jogger with family ties to the CSRA who’s now buried bear Waynesboro.

Travis McMichael, 35, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 65 were each charged along with William “Roddie” Bryan, 51, with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping.

The McMichaels were also charged with one count each of using, carrying and brandishing — and in the son’s case, discharging — a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment allege the defendants used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.

Specifically, Count 1 alleges that as Arbery was running on a public street in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, the McMichaels armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighborhood while yelling at him, using their truck to cut off his route, and threatening him with firearms.

Count 1 also alleges the offense resulted in Arbery’s death.

Count 2 alleges Bryan joined the chase and used his truck to cut off Arbery’s route.

In addition to the hate-crime charges, Count 3 alleges all three defendants tried to unlawfully seize and confine Arbery by chasing after him in their trucks in an attempt to restrain him, restrict his free movement, corral and detain him against his will, and prevent his escape.

Counts 4 and 5 allege that during the course of the crime of violence charged in Count 1, Travis McMichael used, carried, brandished and discharged a Remington shotgun, and his father used, carried and brandished a .357 Magnum revolver.

All three defendants have also been charged in a separate state proceeding with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. No trial date has been set for the state case.

The McMichaels have claimed they thought Arbery was a burglar. The case led to reform of the state’s citizen’s arrest law that had been cited by the McMichaels in their actions.

The announcement was made by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes of the Southern District of Georgia, and Special Agent in Charge J.C. Hacker of the FBI.

This case was investigated by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tara Lyons of the Southern District of Georgia, and Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein and Special Litigation Counsel Christopher J. Perras of the Civil Rights Division.

An indictment is a formal accusation of conduct, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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