What we know about Ahmaud Arbery and the men accused in his murder
Friday, May 8, 2020
The arrests of two men in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery came just hours before he would have turned 26 -- and they may not be the only arrests, according to the chief of Georgia's top law enforcement agency.
Thursday night by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in connection with the slaying just outside Brunswick. The men who pursued Arbery in a pickup told police they believed the jogger with CSRA ties was a burglar.
when they appeared by video before a judge.
that the arrests came in short order after its agents worked on the case for 36 hours at a whirlwind pace.
"They hit that pavement hard" and conducted neighborhood canvasses and interviews, GBI Director Vic Reynolds said at the news conference.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, the agents informed commanders that they had established sufficient probable cause to make the arrests. After arrest warrants were issued through a court, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were apprehended around 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Reynolds said.
They were charged with murder and aggravated assault and booked into Glynn County jail.
On the subject of whether there would be any other arrests, Reynolds said the case is "an active, ongoing investigation" and that agents would "go wherever the facts take them." If the facts lead them to make another arrest, they will do so, he said.
Reynolds said “every stone will be uncovered.”
Asked about racial intent in the shooting, Reynolds said “there is no hate crime in Georgia. There isn't. It is one of four or five states that doesn’t have one.”
The McMichaels are white and Arbery was African American.
The slaying had gained national attention in recent days after no arrests were made. There were calls for justice from Arbery's family members and friends, many of whom live in the CSRA, where he's buried and where events are planned today in his honor of his birthday.
Outraged, Arbery's friends and family feared his story was being overlooked in the pandemic that also kept protesters at home.
Here’s what we know about the case:
Arbery loved to run, but on Feb. 23, a sunny Sunday, his run became a deadly chase.
Police reports say he was shot by Travis McMichael, who believed Arbery was a burglar after a string of break-ins in the area.
The reports say Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, chased Arbery in a truck and the men claim the son shot Arbery in self-defense.
Arbery's family said he was out for a jog when he was shot and did nothing wrong.
The case has gotten national attention after the release of the video showing the controversial shooting. In the video, Arbery is seen running behind a truck that is stopped. One man is outside of the truck on the driver’s side holding a shotgun and another man is in the bed of the truck with a handgun.
Arbery runs around the passenger side of the truck and then in front of the truck where you can't see what is happening for a moment.
Arbery and the man outside of the truck are then seen struggling. Three shots are fired. Arbery collapses and the video ends.
Critics contend there was no initial arrest because the man with the shotgun is the son of a former officer from the same department initially investigating the case.
Hinesville District Attorney Tom Durden made the decision Tuesday that he thought the case should go to a grand jury after he was requested to review the case.
The GBI opened an investigation this week after the video was posted online by a Brunswick radio station.
Durden is the third prosecutor to handle the case. The Brunswick prosecutor recused herself immediately given the McMichaels’ connection to her office. Gregory McMichael worked at the Glynn County Police Department in the 1980s and spent more than two decades as an investigator with the Brunswick County District Attorney's Office.
A second prosecutor, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, recused himself in early April.
Barnhill wrote to the state attorney general that his son and Gregory McMichael had helped with a previous prosecution of Arbery.
In the letter, Barnhill states that Arbery had a juvenile and felony record, as well as mentions Arbery’s family members that had a criminal history.
WRDW's sister station in Savannah, WTOC, reached out to Barnhill on Wednesday. He said he had no comment at this time.
Here at home, people will honor Arbery today. In Augusta, the “I Run with Maud” event is planned at Diamond Lakes Regional Park at 6 p.m.
People across the country are holding similar events to mark the avid runner's birthday. The runs will be 2.23 miles, a number that's significant because he was slain on the the date 2/23.
One was held this morning at the Odell Weeks Center in Aiken.
Tamber Watson helped organize the event, and she said the goal was to not only promote justice for Arbery, but also to raise awareness about the injustices that occur every day.
She said hearing Arbery's story felt like a personal attack.
"To be hunted down like an animal is beyond me. It's 2020. This should have been left way before the '20's," Watson said.
"Anyone who gets stood up, anyone who gets wronged, I will be there to stand up for them."
"There are a lot of people who are discouraged and believe that this is going to be one of the cases that has happened in the nation, where life was lost and justice was not rendered."
She says she has not seen the video of the shooting and never will. "I don't think I'll ever reach the mental capacity to ever watch the video. I saw my son come into the world and seeing (him) leave the world is not something that I'd want to see ever."
He told reporters Thursday he was confident the GBI would “find the truth.”
"I'm pleased to see GBI Director Vic Reynolds move very swiftly with conducting an investigation but, more importantly, arresting the perpetrators. I think that has brought a level of calm to that community."
“It’s a heartbreak. ... Very rough, rough stuff," he said this morning in an interview on Fox News Channel. "Justice getting done is what solves that problem. It’s in the hands of the governor and I’m sure he’ll do the right thing.”
He has called Arbery’s death a “murder.” During an online roundtable Thursday, Biden compared the video to seeing Arbery “lynched before our very eyes.”