DOJ Investigating Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery as Hate Crime

May 26, 2020 Updated: May 27, 2020

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia, in February, as a hate crime, his family’s attorneys said May 25.

Arbery was fatally shot on a residential street on Feb. 23 as he ran through the small Georgia neighborhood. Three men have been arrested in connection with Arbery’s death this month after video footage of the incident emerged on May 5.

Federal prosecutors are also launching an investigation into the handling of the fatal shooting by local law enforcement, CBS News reported. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia’s office will look into why it took Georgia and Glynn County more than two months to make an arrest after Arbery’s death, attorneys for the victim’s family said.

A father and son, Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault on May 7 in the fatal shooting of the 25-year-old. The individual who captured the 36-second mobile footage of the violent encounter, 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., was arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment on May 21.

The footage, which was captured from a vehicle near the scene, showed the father, a former county police officer, confront Arbery. Shortly afterward, his son shot Arbery, the video showed.

The elder McMichael told officers previously that he and his son thought Arbery could have been a burglar, and so chased after him. According to a police report filed Feb. 23, the pair were in possession of a shotgun and a .357 Magnum revolver, and tailed Arbery in a white pickup truck as he ran.

The 64-year-old also claimed his son was attacked violently by Arbery, which is not evident in the footage. The video footage shows that at least three gunshots were fired.

The victim’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, said she believes her son, a former football player, was just exercising when he was shot.

“He was out for his daily jog, and he was hunted down like an animal and killed,” Jones said. “I’m hoping that all involved, they’re indicted and they go to jail.”

Georgia is 1 of 4 states in the United States that doesn’t have a hate crime statute, however the victim’s family attorneys said an active hate crime investigation is underway. They said the Justice Department had been sent excerpts of social media posts and emails from individuals who knew the McMichaels for years, suggesting a history of “hateful” statements. The DOJ is able to act as a “backstop” to prosecute hate crimes in states without a hate crime statute, or where the crime isn’t covered by state laws.

The DOJ, when contacted by The Epoch Times, pointed to a statement made earlier this month that it was reviewing the evidence in Arbery’s shooting death to “determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate.”