The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery has been called a ‘modern lynching,’ and millions – including LeBron James, Justin Bieber, and Joe Biden – are demanding justice. Here’s what you need to know.
Ahmaud Arbery went out for a jog on Feb. 23 and didn’t come back alive. Ahmaud, 25, was running through a quiet neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, when two armed men — Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, — got into a white pickup truck to chase him down. Gregory, a former police officer and former investigator with the local district attorney’s office, told Glynn County police officers that he thought Ahmaud matched the description of a suspect in a series of recent break-ins, according to the Washington Post. During the chase, the McMichaels reportedly yelled, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you.” During a physical confrontation, Gregory claims Ahmaud “began to violently attack” and attempted to fight Travis over his shotgun. Travis reportedly fired his gun, and Ahmaud fell, dying on the pavement from his wounds.
No arrests have been made, or charges filed over the shooting. The outrage over this case went nationwide on Tuesday (May 5) after a cellphone video surfaced online. Lawyers for Ahmaud’s family claim that this shows his dying moments. In the graphic footage, Ahmaud and the McMichaels have their physical altercation. Three shots are heard, and Ahmaud is seen stumbling before falling dead to the ground. Many questioned why there hasn’t been an investigation into this incident two months after it happened. As the case unfolds, here’s what you need to know.
1. Ahmaud Arbery was a high school athlete. Described as a “former high school football standout” by The New York Times, Ahmaud was living outside the small city of Brunswick with his mother. Friends and family said that he “liked to stay in good shape,” and he was often seen jogging in and around his neighborhood.
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2. A new prosecutor out of Atlanta is handling the case. Shortly after the shooting, the prosecutor for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit recused herself because Gregory McMichael worked in her officer, per the New York Times. The D.A. for Waycross, GA, George E. Barnhill, eventually recused himself after Ahmaud’s mother publicly argued that there was a conflict of interest (since George had also worked for the D.A.’s office.)
Before relinquishing the case, the New York Times reports Mr. Barnhill wrote to the Glynn County Police Department, arguing that there “was not sufficient probable cause” to arrest the McMichaels, and argued that the two were “allowed to use deadly force” to protect themselves under Georgia law.
He also reportedly argued that Ahmaud had prior convictions (the New York Times reports that Ahmaud was convicted of shoplifting and violating probation in 2018 and that in 2013, he was allegedly indicted on charges for taking a handgun to a high school basketball game.) He said these priors might “help explain his apparent aggressive nature and his possible thought pattern to attack an armed man.”
With two previous prosecutors recusing themselves,