Georgia’s attorney general yesterday asked the federal Justice Department to investigate the handling of the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, an African American who investigators said died at the hands of two Caucasian men as he ran through a neighborhood.
“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement. “The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”
Arbery was killed February 23, 2020. No arrests were made until last week.
National outrage over the case swelled last week after video surfaced that appeared to show the shooting.
Shortly after the video’s leak, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son 34-year-old Travis McMichael were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The arrests came hours after officials asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation [GBI] to look into the case. The inquiry previously had been in the hands of local officials.
The father and son said they thought Arbery matched the appearance of a burglary suspect who they said had been recorded on a surveillance camera some time before.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thought her son was just jogging in the Georgia neighborhood before he was killed.
Officials in Georgia also said they’re investigating an online threat against people protesting the killing of Arbery.
The GBI announced yesterday it “has been made aware of a Facebook post that contains a threat to future protests related to Ahmaud Arbery. We are actively investigating this situation and will provide pertinent updates as necessary.” State police later arrested Rashawn Smith and charged him with disseminating information relating to terroristic acts. Police took Smith into custody in Midway, 50 miles north of Brunswick.
On Saturday, the GBI confirmed that it obtained other photos of video that might shed light on the case. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published footage from a surveillance camera at a Brunswick home near where Arbery was shot that shows someone who appeared to be Arbery walking into a home under construction. Arbery then came back out and ran down the street. Someone else came out across the street from the construction site, and then a vehicle drove off farther down the street, near where Travis McMichael lived.
Lawyers for Arbery’s family said the video bolstered their position that Arbery did nothing wrong, and showed he did not commit a felony. Under Georgia law, someone who isn’t a sworn police officer can arrest and detain another person only if a felony is committed in the presence of the arresting citizen.
“Ahmaud’s actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law,” the lawyers wrote in a social media post. “This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified.”