Posted on May 11, 2020

Federal Officials Considering If Hate Crime Charges Are Necessary in Ahmaud Arbery Case

Jay Cannon, et al., USA Today, May 11, 2020

Federal officials are weighing the possibility of federal hate crime charges in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

The department is also considering a request from Georgia’s attorney general, who called for a federal investigation into the handling of the Arbery case, spokesperson Kerri Kupec said. The case had no arrests until more than two months after the 25-year-old man was killed while out for a run.

Arbery, whose story has sent a flurry of shock around the nation, was shot and killed Feb. 23 about two miles from his home in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia. Two men, a father and son, were arrested May 7 on murder and aggravated assault charges, but not until after the incident had gained wide attention and criticism on social media.

“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Attorney General Chris Carr in a press release Sunday.

The request to the U.S. Department of Justice includes, but is not limited to, an investigation into how local officials communicated in the wake of the killing.

There has been another change in the prosecution as well.

Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes has been appointed to lead the prosecution of Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, who were arrested Thursday, according to a statement from Carr’s office.

Holmes replaces District Attorney Tom Durden as lead prosecutor, who took over after Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill recused themselves from the case because of their connections to Gregory McMichael, a former investigator with Johnson’s office.

Citing that the case has grown in magnitude since Durden was first appointed to it, Carr said Durden “recognized that another office is better suited” for it, and requested it be assigned to another district attorney.