Tuesday, July 27, 2021

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    Ahmaud Arbery shooting latest news: Federal investigation requested

    Georgia’s attorney general has requested a federal investigation into the handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case, which had no arrests until more than two months after the 25-year-old man was killed while out for a run.

    Arbery, whose story has sent a flurry of shock around the nation, was shot and killed Feb. 23 about two miles from his home in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia. Two men, a father and son, were arrested May 7 on murder and aggravated assault charges, but not until after the incident had gained wide attention and criticism on social media.

    “We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Attorney General Chris Carr in a press release Sunday. 

    The request to the U.S. Department of Justice includes, but is not limited to, an investigation into how local officials communicated in the wake of the killing. 

    There has reportedly been another change in the prosecution as well. 

    Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes has been appointed to lead the prosecution of Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, who were arrested Thursday, according to WSB-TV. Holmes would replace District Attorney Tom Durden and become the third prosecutor to be named to the case. Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson had previously recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael was a retired investigator from her office.

    Ahmaud Arbery: Why it took more than 2 months for murder charges and arrests

    Here’s the latest news:

    Video proves Arbery did nothing wrong, lawyers say

    Surveillance video recorded minutes before Arbery’s slaying proves the Georgia jogger was not involved in a crime, attorneys for Arbery’s family said.  

    An individual believed to be Arbery was seen at a property under construction for less than three minutes before being ambushed a short while later, lawyers said in a statement Saturday night.

    The surveillance video is “consistent with the evidence already known to us” that Arbery made a brief stop at the site while out for a run and “engaged in no illegal activity,” they said. 

    “Ahmaud did not take anything from the construction site. He did not cause any damage to the property,” the attorneys said. “He remained for a brief period of time and was not instructed by anyone to leave but rather left on his own accord to continue his jog. Ahmaud’s actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law.”

    Who has been arrested?

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, on Thursday. The father and son were both charged with murder and aggravated assault.

    Local officials and community leaders said a history of nepotism and privilege in the district attorney’s offices of Waycross and Brunswick allowed the suspects to remain free. 

    Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson had previously recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael was a retired investigator from her office. He is also a former Glynn County police officer. 

    ‘Killed in cold blood’: Biden, Abrams call for action in shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery

    Who recorded the video?

    The director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was looking into all people involved in the Arbery case, including the person who shot the video, William “Roddie” Bryan.

    Bryan was not aware that he was under investigation until Friday when the GBI made the announcement, said attorney Kevin Gough, who represents Bryan. 

    Gough said his client was a witness to a crime and has cooperated with police.  

    “Roddie is a family man, NASCAR fan, and enjoys rock and roll. He is not now, and never has been, a ‘vigilante,’ ” Gough said in a statement. 

    Gough, who told USA TODAY that Bryan was fired from his job and has received threats, called on the GBI to clear his client’s name. 

    Who released the original video?

    Video of the incident was widely shared on social media before a criminal defense lawyer in Brunswick said last week that he was behind the release. Alan Tucker said he released the video to promote “absolute transparency.”

    Though his firm had not been retained to represent anyone in the case, Tucker said it may be. He said he obtained the video from the person who recorded it.

    What has been the reaction?

    Arbery’s family and lawyers condemned the killing.

    Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, said she thinks her son, a former high school football player, was simply jogging for exercise before he was killed.

    “It’s so reminiscent of the motivations for lynchings,” attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Arbery family, wrote in USA TODAY. 

    What we know about community where Ahmaud Arbery was shot: 911 caller reported ‘black guy’ on property

    Sunday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the incident a “lynching” and blasted White House “rhetoric” for enabling racism.    

    “With the rhetoric we hear coming out of the White House in so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way we otherwise would not see in 2020,” Bottoms told CNN.

    Last week, President Donald Trump called the video “very disturbing.”

    Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center, called for justice, likening the incident to the slaying of Trayvon Martin in which the killer was acquitted. 

    What is the situation with protests?

    Hours after learning of a Facebook post that “contains a threat to future protests related to Ahmaud Arbery,” the GBI on Sunday night announced the arrest of a 20-year-old man.

    Rashawn Smith was charged with dissemination of information relating to terroristic acts. He was taken into custody in Midway, about 50 miles north of Brunswick, and booked into the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. 

    Several hundred people crowded outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Friday to mark what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday,

    Demonstrator Anthony Johnson said he sees echoes of Emmett Till, a black Chicago teen who was kidnapped in 1955 in Mississippi, lynched and dumped in a river after he was falsely accused of whistling at a white woman. Arbery “died because he was black like the rest of them did. For no reason,” Johnson said.

    Runners around the world jogged 2.23 miles to pay tribute to Arbery on Friday. The 2.23 represented the date he was killed.

    Will there be hate crime charges?

    The McMichaels will not face hate crime charges in Georgia, state investigators said.

    Georgia is one of four states in the U.S. that don’t have a hate crime prevention law, according to the Department of Justice. If someone commits a crime motivated by bias, statewide authorities are unable to pursue additional charges or enhanced penalties for the perpetrator.

    Contributing: The Associated Press 

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