The newly released video is chilling. In a mere 30 seconds, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery went from jogging through a Georgia suburb to lying in the middle of the street dead, murdered in cold blood.
The update to an investigation that started more than two months ago is sparking renewed outrage, as concerned citizens from his small Georgia community up to the presumed presidential nominee speak out about the miscarriage of justice surrounding the case. The new development has also prompted the most recent prosecutor assigned to Arbery’s murder—there have been three—to call for a grand jury trial to decide whether 64-year-old Greg McMichael and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, will face charges.
“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,” Tom Durden, District Attorney Pro Tempore for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, wrote in a press release shared with the Brunswick News.
According to the local Georgia outlet, his recommendation was based on the evidence presented in the case as well as information gathered from contact with the county police department, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia.
Durden’s decision comes as activists, politicians, family and friends demand that the circumstances surrounding Arbery’s murder be properly investigated.
In a tweet, former Vice-President Joe Biden, the presumptive presidential nominee, weighed in saying, “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.”
The newly released video shows a man presumed to be Arbery, jogging down the street in a white T-shirt when he comes upon a stationary white truck where one man is standing on the bed of the vehicle as the other posts up near the driver’s side door. Arbury passes the truck on the right, then quickly the movement moves to the left of the frame. You can see the victim struggling with a man armed with a shotgun, presumed to be Travis McMichael.
In the next moment a shot goes off, and the two men disappear from the frame. A second shot goes off. When they return, you again see the men tussling over the shotgun. After a third shot, the wounded victim begins staggering with a wound below his left rib cage, eventually falling out in the middle of the road. The aggressor walks away as the man who was stationed on the bed of the truck approaches him.
The video runs contrary to the account Gregory McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer and longtime investigator with the Brunswick Judicial Circuit DA, told Glynn County officers. McMichael told them that he witnessed Arbery jogging and identified him as the man he saw breaking into a nearby home on a previous night. He called to his son to join him in apprehending Arbery. The two grabbed shotguns because he claimed Arbery was armed the night he saw him breaking into the nearby home.
The father and son vigilantes claim in the police report that they followed Arbery in their pickup, attempting to cut him off, but Arbery began running in the opposite direction. They then chased Arbery to an intersection where they were able to catch up to him. After warnings to “stop” so they could talk to him, Arbery “violently attacked” Travis. In a struggle over the gun, two shots were fired, leading to Arbery’s collapse.
Arbery’s family disagrees with the McMichaels account, and lawyer S. Lee Merritt contends that their defense of a citizen’s arrest is not applicable to this case.
“According to that law, you actually have to be observing the crime or be in the immediate knowledge of the crime,” Merritt told CNN. “The only thing they have ever said is…that Ahmaud stopped by a house that was under construction and he looked through the window. We don’t know if that happened or not, but even if that did happen that is not a felony that would invoke the citizen’s arrest statute that would make this allowable.”
On Tuesday, a concerned group of citizens gathered in Satilla Shores, the place of Arbery’s killing, to demand justice for his horrific murder. Approaching the McMichaels home, they shouted, “We want justice.”
Unfortunately for those who loved Arbery, they will have to wait until courts resume to get a fair trial. Because of the pandemic, a grand jury trial won’t be possible before the middle of June.