Rachel Aretakis Grace Hauck, USA Today, May 6, 2020
A grand jury will decide if criminal charges are warranted in the death of a black man who was shot after he was chased by two armed white men who later told police they thought he was a burglar.
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed in February in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia. Two men, a father and son, told police they saw him running and believed he was a burglary suspect; they told police Arbery attacked them after one of the men got out of the truck with a shotgun.
However, Arbery’s family and their attorneys believe he was jogging when he was killed.
Here’s what we know about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery:
There have been no arrests or charges in the case, prosecutor Tom Durden said in a statement Tuesday. He said he plans to have a grand jury hear the evidence in the shooting. But a grand jury hearing won’t happen at least until mid-June when Georgia courts reopen from coronavirus restrictions.
“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.
Arbery was shot after two men saw him running in their neighborhood and armed themselves with guns before getting in a truck to pursue him, according to an incident report filed by Glynn County police.
Gregory McMichael told police that he was in his front yard when he saw “the suspect from the break-ins ‘hauling ass’ down the street.” McMichael told police that he and his adult son thought the man matched someone caught on a security camera committing a recent break-in in the neighborhood.
McMichael and his son, Travis, both grabbed guns because they “didn’t know if the male was armed or not,” accord to the police report. He told officers they first tried to stop Arbery by shouting, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you!”
McMichael said Travis got out of the truck with a shotgun and that Arbery “began to violently attack” him and “the two men then started fighting over the shotgun,” the police report said. McMichael said his son fired two shots, according to the report.
The police report says Gregory McMichael turned Arbery onto his back to see if he was armed – but the report doesn’t say whether he had a weapon or not.
What are officials doing and saying?
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who had not addressed the shooting until this week, tweeted Tuesday that “Georgians deserve answers” and that the state bureau of investigation is supporting Durden “to ensure a thorough, independent investigation” into his death.
The Georgia NAACP was expected to hold a protest with Arbery’s family at the Glynn County Courthouse on Friday.
Several lawmakers have also spoken out. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted late Tuesday that Arbery was “killed in cold blood.”
Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said “our systems of law enforcement and justice must be held to the highest standards” and called for a “full investigation, appropriate charges and an unbiased prosecution.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a former Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter the video “sickens me to my core.”
“Exercising while Black shouldn’t be a death sentence,” she said.