In the United States, a jury found that the three men who hunted down and killed Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, are guilty of murder. A video that was recorded at the time of the attack by one of the attackers created national outrage. All three could face life in prison
A judge from Brunswick in Georgia, United States, convicted of murder the three men who chased, shot and murdered Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American who played sports on February 23, 2020 in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.
The defendants are Gregory McMichael, a 65-year-old former police officer; his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and his neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52, who claimed in court to have acted in self-defense.
His lawyers affirmed that the homicide was justified because Arbery passed in front of the McMichael house and that several robberies occurred in that town, so they thought he was a suspect.
The three defendants decided, under a Georgia state law that is now repealed, to make a citizen’s arrest: Gregory and Travis McMichael got out in their truck and chased Arbery through the streets for five minutes.
Bryan, who later joined the chase, recorded the event from his cell phone. The video came to light more than two months after the murder, fueling public outrage when they saw that none of those responsible had been arrested or prosecuted.
Travis McMichael argued that the young man snatched the shotgun from his hands and that is why he shot him at point-blank range three times, his defense attorney was never able to prove that theory.
Prosecutors said the defendants had “assumed the worst” about an African-American man jogging Sunday afternoon.
The jury, consisting of 12 people, 11 white women and men and only one African American, deliberated for two days and found the defendants guilty of murder, aggravated assault, false arrest and intent to commit a felony.
They face a minimum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, although defense attorneys said they will appeal.
Arbery’s Family and President Biden React to Condemnation
About 100 people accompanying the family, including racial rights activists, reacted with shouts outside the Brunswick courthouse when the judge ruled that the defendants were guilty.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was crying in the courtroom as she received news of the conviction. Upon leaving he said “now he will rest in peace” and thanked all “those who marched, those who prayed (…) Thank you guys, thank you,” he said.
Her father, Marcus Arbery, who was thrown out of the courtroom by jumping out of his seat and yelling at the jury’s decision, said it was a historic day “to let you know that the lives of black children do matter. Really, all the life matters, not just black kids, “he said.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that the convictions showed that the United States criminal justice system is “doing its job,” although the murder was “a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice. in this country”.
Biden assured that nothing will be able to bring the young man “back to his family and his community”, but indicated that the verdict ensures “that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.”
Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished. https://t.co/WK7vNZlZfj
– President Biden (@POTUS) November 24, 2021
For her part, Vice President Kamala Harris said that despite the verdict she feels “the weight of pain. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive.” “He was a son. A brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget it. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice.”
Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice.
– Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) November 24, 2021
Travis McMichael’s attorney, Jason Sheffield, said the defendants “regret the tragedy that happened because of the decisions they made to come out and try to stop him.”
Arbery’s name is also one of those that came to light in the 2020 anti-racism protests in the United States, which erupted after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both African-American.