Father and son charged with murder of Ahmaud Arbery (updated)

Photo courtesy of the family of Ahmaud Arbery Ahmaud Arbery

Update: Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael were arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the February fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, per the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They have been booked into the Glynn County Jail.

Outrage and shock continue to mount across the nation after newly released video footage showed the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man from Brunswick, Georgia.  

In an incident eerily similar to the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2013,  Arbery was shot and killed by two White men on February 23, while jogging through a nearby suburb.

The White men involved, Greg McMichael, a 64-year-old former Glyn County cop and recently retired investigator with the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, and his 32-year-old son Travis McMichael told a story last month that painted Arbery as the aggressor, whom they pursued because they thought he had been breaking in homes in the area.

After giving their account, it appeared that authorities were satisfied and said that no charges would be forthcoming but that changed on Tuesday when a driver’s dash-cam revealed a different story.

The video, which was all over social media on Tuesday, shows Arbery jogging down a street in the middle of Satilla Shores, a mostly White subdivision on Brunswick’s south end. When he approaches the truck parked near the middle of the street with the two men sitting in it, Arbery appears to try to run around the truck.

He is then confronted by Travis McMichael, who jumped out of the truck with a shotgun in his hand and confronts Arbery. It appears that as soon as Arbery realizes that McMichael has a shotgun he tries to take it from him.

McMichael’s dad is in the bed of the truck and is pointing his .357 Magnum at Arbery. While the younger McMichael is wrestling with Arbery, a shot is fired. And then two more shots ring out. It’s not clear exactly who fired the shots but the young jogger stumbles, collapses, and dies on the spot.

“It’s gone international now,” said Gerald Griggs, an attorney with the Atlanta NAACP. “There’s some serious anger out there. Because of the video, this is now bigger than Trayvon Martin,” Griggs said. “There is no room for speculation. The video speaks for itself.”

Griggs said he is calling for a federal investigation of Glynn County police for their handling of the case.

Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), said, “They must pay for killing this innocent young man, after hunting him down like a dog.”

“The series of events captured on this video confirms what all the evidence indicated prior to its release—Mr. Arbery was pursued by three White men that targeted him solely because of his race and murdered him without justification,” said attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the victim’s mother Wanda Cooper. “In absence of the video,” Merritt said a “false narrative was constructed where the victim was slandered as a criminal with mental health concerns.”

“As I’ve stated before, this was instigated and perpetuated by the shooters,” Brunswick NAACP President John Davis Perry, III told the AJC. “They placed him in a position in which he had to fight for his life. This video is appalling!”

Cooper said in an appearance on CNN Sunday that police initially told her that her son was involved in a burglary and that he was killed in a confrontation with the homeowner who struggled over a gun.

After killing Arbery, Gregory McMichael told police he had seen Arbery the previous night and that he stuck his hand down his pants on that occasion, leading McMichael to believe he was armed.

Upon seeing Arbery jogging the next day, McMichael said he told his son, “Travis, the guy is running down the street; let’s go,” McMichael said, according to the report.

The two grabbed a shotgun and a pistol and followed Arbery in their truck, police said. Travis McMichael, the driver, followed Arbery and then attempted to cut him off, the report said. Arbery turned around and began running in the opposite direction, the police report said.

They chased Arbery to a nearby intersection where they caught up to him, the report said. The elder McMichael said he yelled, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you.” According to the McMichael’s, Travis McMichael then exited the truck with the shotgun, and his father told police that Arbery “violently attacked” his son, and they struggled over the gun. Travis McMichael fired two shots, the report said, and Arbery fell.

And it looked like that was going to be the final resolution as prosecutors seemed reluctant to seek prosecution or even allow a grand jury to consider charges until the video of the incident was revealed on Tuesday.

When asked if she would view the video, Cooper said, “I don’t think I’d be able to take it.”