Katelyn Caralle, et al., Daily Mail, May 6, 2020
Joe Biden asserted Tuesday night that the unarmed black man shot in Georgia in late February was ‘killed in cold blooded’ after video of the incident circulated on social media.
‘The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood,’ Biden tweeted along with a link to a Georgia district attorney recommendation that a grand jury hear the case.
‘My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now,’ the presumed Democratic nominee continued in his Twitter post. ‘It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.’
The assertion from Biden, who served as vice president under the first black U.S. president, comes as cellphone video footage was posted by a local radio host Tuesday and circulated heavily across social media.
On Tuesday the DA also announced as the incident gained more traction that the case will go to a grand jury to decide if criminal charges are warranted against the two white men involved in the shooting.
The shocking video appears to show the moment when Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was jogging in Georgia, was chased and gunned down by a man who claimed he was looking for a burglar suspect.
But the victim’s family lawyer says the footage clearly shows a ‘murder.’
Arbery was killed February 23 in a neighborhood outside the coastal port city of Brunswick, Georgia.
Since the shooting, which was caught on camera, no one has been arrested or charged in the case, prompting an outcry from the local NAACP and others.
In the video, Arbery can be seen jogging down the street, in the middle of the road as the parked pickup truck waits further up.
Gregory and Travis McMichael, father and son respectively, are believed to be the two men waiting at the vehicle.
Screaming can be heard, but it is inaudible.
The jogger can be seen trying to make his way around the vehicle but a man believed to be Travis blocks his path with a gun.
A shot can be heard and the two can then be seen scuffling as Arbery looks to try to get the gun away from Travis.
Two more shots can be heard and are fired at point-blank range before Arbery is seen stumbling to the ground.
Tom Durden, a Georgia prosecutor assigned to examine the case, declined to comment Tuesday when the prosecutor was asked if he could verify that the video showed the shooting of Arbery.
Durden announced on Tuesday he plans to have a grand jury hear the evidence in the shooting.
The announcement that a grand jury will review the case came as an attorney for Arbery’s mother posted a cellphone video on Twitter that he said shows the shooting. ‘This is murder,’ lawyer Lee Merritt said.
‘Mr. Arbery had not committed any crime and there was no reason for these men to believe they had the right to stop him with weapons or to use deadly force in furtherence of their unlawful attempted stop,’ said a statement by Merritt, who represents Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper.
The grand jury won’t happen for more than a month, as Georgia courts remain largely closed because of the coronavirus until at least June 13.
‘I am of the opinion that the case should be presented to the grand jury of Glynn County for consideration of criminal charges against those involved in the death of Mr. Arbery,’ Durden said in a statement Tuesday.
Reached by phone, Durden said no arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. He declined to say what charges he would have a grand jury consider or to comment further.
John Perry, a Brunswick pastor and president of the local NAACP chapter, said he was glad to hear that Durden will send the case to a grand jury. But he was dismayed that the armed men who went after Arbery remain free.
‘It’s very problematic,’ Perry said. ‘To shoot and kill and not get arrested, it doesn’t compute.’
Arbery was shot dead in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, just after 1pm on February 23.
According to Glynn County Police, officers responded to the area as a result of a 911 call, but by the time they arrived to the scene Arbery had been shot by a white man identified as 34-year-old Travis McMichael.
Travis and his father, Gregory, 64, a retired Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney investigator, had seen Arbery, who was unarmed, running in the area and armed themselves before chasing him down in a pickup truck.
According to The New Brunswick News, 911 dispatchers received two calls about Arbery being in the neighborhood.
About 50 seconds into one of the calls, the dispatcher interrupted the caller and said: ‘I just need to know what he was doing wrong.’
During the chase, the McMichaels yelled for Arbery to stop because they wanted to talk to him, according to The New York Times.
They then pulled up to Arbery, and Travis got out of the truck with the shotgun.
Gregory claimed that Arbery started to ‘violently attack Travis’ and the two men started fighting over the shotgun.
That’s when Travis fired one shot and then ‘a second later there was a second shot’.
More than two months later and neither Gregory nor Travis McMichael have been charged with Arbery’s death.
Arbery’s family has started a Facebook page called I Run with Maud that serves as an outlet for relatives to advocate for justice.
‘On February 23rd 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was wrongfully chased and killed by two individuals who took the law into their own hands after they thought Ahmaud ‘looked suspicious’ because he was ‘running’ down the street.
‘Join us in bringing light to this tragedy as we demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery,’ the page reads.
In mid-April, the family shared a statement from the office of Jackie Johnson, the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District attorney, announcing that she had recused her office from the case because Gregory served as an investigator within the office.
Arbery’s case was then sent to George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Georgia.
But he also had to recuse himself from the case after Arbery’s mother argued that Barnhill had a conflict because his son also works for Johnson.
According to the Times, before Barnhill gave up the case, he had argued that there was not sufficient probable cause to arrest Arbery’s attackers.
Barnhill claimed that the McMichaels were within their rights to carry their firearms under Georgia’s open carry law and had the right to pursue a ‘burglary suspect’.
Under Georgia law, Barnhill had argued that if Arbery attacked Travis, he was ‘allowed to use deadly force to protect himself’.
Barnhill also claimed that Arbery had mental health issues and prior convictions, which include shoplifting and violating probation.
Arbery’s defender, Michael J. Moore, called Barnhill’s statements ‘flawed’, noting that the McMichaels were the ones who appeared to be the aggressors.
‘The law does not allow a group of people to form an armed posse and chase down an unarmed person who they believe might have possibly been the perpetrator of a past crime,’ Moore said, according to the Times.