ATLANTA – The three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot dead after being chased in a South Georgia neighborhood, have been charged with murder by a Georgia grand jury, announced on Wednesday the prosecutor in the case.
The Men: Gregory McMichael, 64; his son Travis McMichael, 34; and his neighbor William Bryan, 50, were arrested and charged last month with murder and other crimes related to Arbery’s death, sparking protests and outrage across the country, particularly after it was published online. a graphic video of his murder on February 23.
On Wednesday, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office Joyette M. Holmes announced that a grand jury in Glynn County had returned a indictment with nine counts against each of the three defendants: malicious murder, four counts of murder serious, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Men could face life in prison without parole.
“This is another step forward in the search for justice for Ahmaud,” Holmes said in a statement, adding: “We will continue to be intentional in seeking justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues. ” . “
Mr. Arbery, 25, was seen in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, outside of Brunswick, Georgia, while running on a Sunday afternoon. A surveillance camera showed that Mr. Arbery stopped for a few minutes inside a house under construction before resuming his career. Gregory McMichael then told authorities that he thought Mr. Arbery was a suspect in a series of robberies in the neighborhood.
He and Travis McMichael armed themselves, told the police, they got into a van and tried to catch Mr. Arbery. Mr. Bryan, known as Roddie, also chased him in his vehicle, a state investigator said, and used his cell phone to film the murder of Mr. Arbery.
The video shows Mr. Arbery running to a truck with Travis McMichael standing next to him. Mr. Arbery tries to run to the other side of the truck to avoid Mr. McMichael, who is armed with a shotgun. But the two fight, and Mr. McMichael soon shoots Mr. Arbery.
At a court hearing this month, Richard Dial, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said Bryan heard McMichael use a racial slur after shooting Arbery.
According to the six-page indictment, which was returned Wednesday morning, the men are accused of trying to “illegally confine and detain” Mr. Arbery while pursuing him, using their vehicles “offensively” and of a way “liable to cause serious bodily harm”. injury.”
The most serious charge is murder by malice, which under Georgia law is “the willful murder of a person with malicious anticipation,” said Charlie Bailey, an Atlanta-area attorney and former assistant district attorney in Fulton, Georgia.
Mr. Bailey noted that this malice did not need to have developed over a long period of time. “Malice can form in an instant,” he said.
The shooting death of Mr. Arbery has become an integral part of the broader wave of protests against racism, racial profiling, and police killings of black people that have erupted across the country in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the Georgia State Senate, largely due to the murder of Mr. Arbery, passed a hate crime bill that had been passed by the House last year. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said he would sign it into law pending a legal review.
Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers representing Mr. Arbery’s family, said in a statement that the allegations confirmed “what Ahmaud’s father has been saying for months: that this was lynching.”
All three suspects remain in Glynn County custody and have not been prosecuted. The McMichaels’ attorneys could not be reached Wednesday afternoon, but Kevin Gough, Mr. Bryan’s attorney, reiterated that his client was innocent.
“We are disappointed that the district attorney decided to indict Mr. Bryan,” he said. “But at the same time we have been demanding a speedy trial from day one. Presenting this case to the grand jury brings us one step closer to our day in court.”