(CN) — A Georgia grand jury has formally indicted three white men on murder charges in the February death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was killed while jogging in a residential neighborhood, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. were indicted on charges of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempted false imprisonment over the Feb. 23 shooting in Brunswick, Georgia.
The indictment was announced Wednesday afternoon by the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office. It was handed down by a grand jury in Glynn County, where Brunswick is located.
“The grand jury looked at the facts and found compelling evidence to bring malice and felony murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment charges against Ahmaud Arbery’s killers,” said Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who represents Arbery’s father. “This confirms what Ahmaud’s father has been saying for months — that this was a lynching.”
Crump added, “This is a significant step on the road to justice and while nothing will bring back Ahmaud’s life, it is important that a grand jury recognized his life had value and was wrongly and ruthlessly ended. We expect a trial will lead to successful prosecution and sentences that reflect the heinous nature of this crime.”
On the afternoon he was killed, Arbery was jogging in a Brunswick neighborhood when the McMichaels, a father and son, went after the 25-year-old in a pickup truck with a .357 Magnum handgun and shotgun, according to a police report.
Greg McMichael, a former police officer, told investigators that there had been a string of robberies in their neighborhood and Arbery fit the description of the alleged burglar.
The McMichaels eventually got out of the car and confronted Arbery, and a struggle ensued before Travis McMichael, Greg’s son, fatally shot Arbery. They were not arrested until May 7, about two and a half months after Arbery’s death. Bryan, who filmed the killing, was arrested on May 21. In Georgia, a person can be charged with felony murder if they were involved in a killing.
In the days leading up to the McMichaels’ arrests, the shooting became national news when a video of the incident was leaked, adding to the national dialogue about race relations and reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Two district attorneys recused themselves from the case, and Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes, a black woman, was appointed to be the lead prosecutor.
“This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud,” Holmes said Wednesday. “We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues.”
The Cobb County DA’s office presented the case to a Glynn County grand jury Wednesday in accordance a May 11 judicial emergency order, which says that grand juries generally should not assemble during the coronavirus pandemic except “to attend to time-sensitive essential matters.”
As of Wednesday, there was no scheduled date for the defendants’ arraignment before Judge Timothy R. Walmsley.