Two White Men Arrested and Charged With Murder of Black Jogger in Georgia

Keith Smith speaks to a crowd as they march through Brunswick, Georgia, on Tuesday. (Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News via AP)

ATLANTA (CN) — More than two months after the Feb. 23 shooting of an unarmed black man in Georgia, two white men were arrested for murder Thursday after video footage of the killing ignited national outrage.

Retired police detective Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested Thursday and charged with the murder and aggravated assault of Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery, 25, was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia while jogging in a residential area.

A neighbor captured cell phone footage showing the two white men confronting Arbery with guns as he jogged through the Satilla Shores neighborhood. The two men chased Arbery in a white pick-up truck because they allegedly thought he had committed a burglary.

Arbery’s family has said he was simply exercising when he was gunned down.

The release of the video footage sparked protests this week from people angered that police had not made any arrests in the 10 weeks since the crime occurred.

Leaders on both sides of the political spectrum weighed in on Thursday as the video made national headlines, including Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who called the footage of the slaying “absolutely horrific” during a press briefing.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said during a virtual campaign roundtable with black lawmakers Thursday that watching Arbery “shot down in cold blood” was like seeing him “lynched before our very eyes.”

President Donald Trump, speaking during an event at the White House, offered his condolences to Arbery’s family and called his death “a very sad thing.”

In a statement released Thursday evening, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed the arrests and asked for patience from Arbery’s community and the nation as they continue the investigation.

“Our agency has received numerous inquiries from the public expressing concern about the status of the GBI investigation. The outcome of this incident left more than one victim, and we want to ensure that the family of Ahmaud Arbery is not further traumatized,” the statement said. “With that, it is of utmost importance to us that this investigation, as with all we conduct, be done thoroughly and expeditiously to ensure justice is served.”

The GBI opened an investigation into the killing after the prosecutor handling the case, Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, formally requested help on Tuesday.

Durden is the third prosecutor to handle the case, taking over after Brunswick prosecutor Jackie Johnson recused herself because Gregory McMichael is a former investigator from her office.

The case was also previously assigned to Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, who said in a memo to Glynn County Police Captain Tom Jump that he did not believe the McMichaels committed a crime by shooting Arbery.

Barnhill recused himself at the request of Arbery’s family.

The GBI has said it will hold a news conference at 9 a.m. Friday with more information on the investigation.

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