There was no evidence Arbery had committed any crime. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.
All three White men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed Black jogger, were convicted of murder Nov. 24 in a case that drew national outrage.
Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan Jr. were convicted on charges of felony murder for the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Arbery.
Each defendant was also convicted on charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and attempt to commit a felony. The jury also convicted Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery, of malice murder. The minimum sentence is life in prison.
The convictions came after jurors deliberated for about 10 hours. There were reasons to doubt that the men would be held accountable for Arbery’s death. But the jury verdict was correct and should provide the Arbery family with some sense of justice.
“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But God is good,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said outside the Glynn County Courthouse in Georgia after the verdicts were announced. “I never thought this day would come, but God is good.”
The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue Arbery after seeing him running in their neighborhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick in February 2020.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in the pickup truck to chase him. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
The three defendants claimed that they believed Arbery could be responsible for burglaries in the neighborhood. The defense cited Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which allows citizens to make an arrest “if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge.”
But the prosecution point out that the defendants’ action were not covered under the law, because they didn’t inform police of any specific crime Arbery committed on the day of his shooting.
“That is not sufficient for a citizen’s arrest. This is not probable cause,” lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury during closing arguments. “This is, I don’t know what in the world this guy was doing, but he’s running down the street real fast.”
Dunikoski said the defendants “made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a Black man running down the street.”
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune