Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in broad daylight in February after an armed father and son chased him in the streets. It took more than 2 months for them to be charged with murder.
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People at a rally on Friday to protest the February shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man, in Brunswick, Georgia. Two men have been charged with murder in the death of Arbery, whom they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in the neighborhood. AP Photo/John Bazemore
- Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, was jogging in his neighborhood in Georgia on February 23 when he was killed in a shooting after being chased by Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son.
- A police report said the McMichaels mistook Arbery, who was unarmed, for a suspect in a string of neighborhood break-ins.
- A video of the chase and shooting was shared on social media and caused outrage.
- In the two months since Arbery died, two district attorneys have recused themselves from the case over potential conflicts of interest.
- Gregory and Travis McMichael were ultimately arrested on Thursday in connection with Arbery's death. They were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
- The hashtag #IRunWithMaud trended on social media, with thousands of people signing up to run 2.23 miles — marking the day of Arbery's death — on Friday.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Friday would have been Ahmaud Arbery's 26th birthday.
Arbery, a black man, was out running in his neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, at about 1 p.m. on February 23.
He was followed and gunned down by a 64-year-old former police officer, Gregory McMichael, and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, both of whom are white.
The shooting was captured on video by a witness in a nearby car, Reuters reported. The shocking footage has been shared widely on social media and has prompted a wave of protests and demands for justice.
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On Thursday, agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael and announced that the two were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
At a news conference on Friday, the bureau's director, Vic Reynolds, said there was "sufficient probable cause to charge the McMichaels with felony murder and aggravated assault."
"I can tell you that if we didn't believe it, we wouldn't have arrested them," he said. "If we believe it, then we're going to put the bracelets on them, and that's exactly what we did yesterday evening."
Here's everything we know about the case.
A local police report describes how the McMichaels chased Arbery and shots were fired after a struggle
A Glynn County police report describes how Arbery was shot after struggling with Travis McMichael over his shotgun.
Travis McMichael's father told the responding officer, J. Brandeberry, that Arbery caught their attention because he resembled a man accused of a rash of residential break-ins. He said they decided to grab their guns and chase him.
However, The Brunswick News reported that only one burglary was reported in the area from the start of 2020 to the day Arbery died. The sole item stolen was a gun from Travis McMichael's unlocked pickup truck.
"McMichael stated he was in his front yard and saw the suspect from the break-ins 'hauling ass' down Satilla Drive toward Burford Drive," Brandeberry's report said.
"McMichael stated he then ran inside his house and called to Travis (McMichael) and said, 'Travis, the guy is running down the street let's go,'" the report continued. "McMichael stated he went to his bedroom and grabbed his .357 Magnum and Travis grabbed his shotgun because they 'didn't know if the male was armed or not.'"
Jumping into their white pickup truck, the pair chased Arbery and tried to block his path, but he turned around and jogged away, the report said. They pursued him, with Gregory McMichael shouting, "Stop, stop, we want to talk to you," before pulling up near Arbery.
At that point, Travis McMichael got out of the truck with his shotgun, the report said, adding that Gregory McMichael said Arbery "began to violently attack Travis."
"The two men then started fighting over the shotgun at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot," the report said.
Three shots can be heard in the video, with the last one fired point-blank, before Arbery stumbles and falls facedown.
Gregory McMichael said he rolled Arbery over to see if he had a weapon, the report said. He did not.
When he arrived, Brandeberry saw that Gregory McMichael had blood on his hands.
The McMichaels were booked in the jail in Glynn County, Reynolds said on Friday.
"This should have occurred the day it happened," Akeem Baker, one of Arbery's close friends, told The Associated Press on Friday. "There's no way without the video this would have occurred. I'm just glad the light's shining very bright on this situation."
'They were performing a lynching in the middle of the day'
Arbery — who wasn't a criminal suspect, but was a former athlete — died from his wounds. He was buried at New Springfield Baptist Church in Alexander, Georgia, on February 29, his obituary said.
His obituary described him as "humble, kind and well mannered," and someone who "always made sure he never departed from his loved ones without an 'I Love You.'" He enjoyed telling jokes and spending time with his family and friends, and he "had a smile that would light up a room."
Arbery was also a sports fan; basketball and football were his favorites. On the football field, his jersey number was 21, "which was passed down from his older brother, Marcus, Jr," his obituary said, noting that he studied at Brunswick High School and South Georgia Technical College. Ahmaud Arbery. I RUN WITH MAUD/Facebook
Arbery's parents, Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery Sr., and their attorneys, Benjamin Crump and S. Lee Merritt, held a video news conference on Wednesday.
"He was my baby boy that I actually had on Mother's Day of 1994," Cooper-Jones said. "He was the baby of the family. But that being said, Ahmaud was his sister and brother's keeper."
Cooper-Jones added: "His spirit was good ... He was the 'yes, ma'am' and 'no, ma'am' type of fellow."
Cooper-Jones recalled the police telling her that her son was shot dead by a homeowner during a home burglary.
It was only after his funeral that she came across a news article reporting that he was killed in the street, not a home or a yard, First Coast News reported. So she began to look into the circumstances of his death.
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"It was a hate crime," Marcus Arbery Sr. told First Coast News. "My young son wasn't doing nothing — minding his own business, running and working out. And that's a crime? To work out and run and he ain't breaking no law? No. Time out." A woman wears a face covering with Arbery's likeness during a rally on Friday in Brunswick. AP Photo/John Bazemore
Cooper-Jones said she hadn't seen the gruesome footage of her son's final moments.
"I don't think that I'll ever reach the mental capacity to ever watch the video," she said in the news conference. "You know, I saw my son come in the world, and seeing him leave the world — it's not something that I want to see, ever."
Crump told Insider on Wednesday that the video looked like "a hunting party."
"We have every right to expect an arrest immediately based on the ocular proof presented in that video of his execution," Crump said.
He added that if it were Arbery and his father who had pulled the trigger on a white jogger, they'd have been arrested on the spot.
"When we believe if this was any other citizen, especially a citizen of color, they would have been arrested because you have an unarmed man in a jogging attack," Crump said. "He doesn't have any burglary outfit or burglary tools or anything like that. I mean, he's jogging, and this guy kills them, and they just take his word for it." Demonstrators at the Glynn County Courthouse on Friday. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Merritt issued a statement on behalf of the family on Tuesday alleging that Gregory and Travis McMichael "targeted" Arbery "solely because of his race and murdered him without justification."
"These men were not performing any police function or any duty as a citizen of the state of Georgia," Merritt said at the news conference on Wednesday. "These men were vigilantes. They were a posse. They were performing a lynching in the middle of the day."
He called for the police to arrest the father-and-son duo.
"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 the furtherance of their unlawful attempted stop," his statement said. "This is murder."
At a news conference in Atlanta before the McMichaels were arrested on Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp said he was confident that investigators would "find the truth."
"Earlier this week, I watched the video depicting Mr. Arbery's last moments alive," he said, according to the AP. "I can tell you it's absolutely horrific, and Georgians deserve answers."
The McMichaels were arrested months later — after 2 prosecutors recused themselves
Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested more than two months after the killing.
Two prosecutors in the area recused themselves before the case landed in the hands of Tom Durden on April 13.
Gregory McMichael worked as an investigator for the Glynn County District Attorney's Office until his retirement in May 2019, a spokesman for the office told Insider. That prompted the recusal of Jackie Johnson, the district attorney from the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. A memorial set up near the intersection of Satilla Road and Holmes Road in Satilla Shores. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
The case was passed off to George Barnhill, the district attorney for the neighboring Waycross Judicial Circuit, but he stepped aside as well because his son also worked for Johnson, he said in a letter to Glynn County Police Capt. Tom Jump and obtained by The New York Times.
In it, Barnhill said that there were "no grounds for an arrest."
The McMichaels were "following, in 'hot pursuit,' a burglary suspect, with solid first hand probable cause, in their neighborhood, and asking/telling him to stop," he wrote. "It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia Law this is perfectly legal."
Barnhill's letter also said that Georgia's open-carry law allowed them to be armed since neither is a convicted felon. They were also in a car registered to Travis McMichael.
He also detailed the altercation between Arbery and Travis McMichael, the ensuing shooting, and Arbery's wounds.
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"Given the fact Arbery initiated the fight, at the point Arbery grabbed the shotgun, under Georgia Law, McMichael was allowed to use deadly force to protect himself," Barnhill wrote. Gregory McMichael, left, and Travis McMichael, his son, have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Arbery. Glynn County Detention Center via AP
The police report said that two shots were fired. While it specified that Travis McMichael fired the first shot, it did not say who fired the second.
"Just as importantly, while we know McMichael had his finger on the trigger, we do not know who caused the firings," Barnhill wrote.
Barnhill's letter said a witness named William Bryan filmed the video of Arbery's killing. Reynolds on Friday called the footage "a very important piece of evidence" and said the bureau was "investigating everybody involved in the case, including the individual who shot the video," as well as how it was leaked.
But the GBI investigation began only after Durden, the Atlantic Judicial Circuit district attorney, contacted Reynolds late Tuesday. Less than two days later, the McMichaels were in handcuffs. A cross with flowers and an A at the entrance to the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Arbery was shot and killed on February 23. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Durden had initially planned to present Arbery's case to the next available grand jury in Glynn County after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, which may not happen until mid-June or later, as courts in Georgia are prohibited from empaneling juries because of the pandemic.
But on Thursday, the GBI announced the arrests and charges.
"This is the first step to justice," Crump said in a statement the announcement. "This murderous father and son duo took the law into their own hands. It's a travesty of justice that they enjoyed their freedom for 74 days after taking the life of a young black man who was simply jogging."