A grand jury has indicted the three suspects in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man who was gunned down and shot to death while running in a Georgia city, US media reported.
The murder sparked widespread outrage and has since become a key part of an intense national debate on racism and police killings of black people in the United States.
Three white men, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, have been in custody since their arrests last month.
Prosecutor Joyette Holmes said the Glynn County grand jury had indicted all three on charges including malice and murder for the death of the African-American man.
Arbery was killed on February 23 when Greg and Travis McMichael, a white father and son, armed themselves and chased the 25-year-old black man who was running through their neighborhood. Greg McMichael told police that he suspected Arbery was a thief and that Arbery attacked his son before he was shot.
Bryan lives in the same subdivision, just outside the port city of Brunswick. Bryan said he saw the McMichaels pass and joined the chase, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said earlier this month.
It was not until May 7, two days after Bryan’s cell phone video leaked online and sparked a national protest, that the McMichaels were arrested by local police. Bryan was arrested on May 22, and an arrest warrant said he tried to “confine and detain” Arbery without legal authority by “using his vehicle multiple times” before Arbery was shot.
In addition to the wrongful death and manslaughter charges, the McMichaels and Bryan are charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of false imprisonment and criminal attempts to commit false imprisonment.
Earlier this month, a state investigator in Georgia alleged that Travis McMichael was heard saying a racial slur as he stood over the mortally wounded man, moments after hitting him with three shots from a bomb action shotgun.
Arbery’s death has become a rallying cry in protests that have rocked the United States, and abroad, after the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman shot dead by police in Louisville, Kentucky, has also been a prominent case in the protests.