Three Georgian men have been charged with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnappings in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was shot while jogging in a neighborhood in Georgia. South last year, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.
The deadly encounter helped fuel nationwide racial justice protests last year, and the charges are the largest hate crime prosecutions to date by the Biden administration, which has made protecting civil rights a priority major.
The suspects – Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and William “Roddie” Bryan, 51 – were each charged with one count of infringing Mr. Arbery’s right to use a public street on the basis of his race and one count of attempted kidnapping.
Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with each using, carrying and brandishing a firearm. Travis McMichael is accused of shooting Mr. Arbery.
As Arbery ran down a public street in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Ga., Travis and Gregory McMichael armed themselves with guns, got into a truck, and chased Arbery through the neighborhood’s public streets in yelling at him, using their truck to cut his route, and threatening him with guns, ”the Justice Department said in a statement.
Mr Bryan joined the lawsuit and used his truck to cut Mr Arbery up, the Justice Department said. The three men were charged with chasing Mr. Arbery in their trucks in an attempt to detain him and detain him against his will.
The case also sparked an uproar after reports and video footage indicated that a local prosecutor erroneously determined that the prosecutors acted within the confines of the arrest status of Georgian citizens and that Mr McMichael shot on Mr. Arbery in self-defense.
Months after the February shooting, a video surfaced that appeared to undermine the notion that Mr McMichael had acted in self-defense. The video showed Mr. Arbery jogging, then stumbling upon a man standing next to a truck and another man in the dumpster of the van. After Mr. Arbery runs around the truck, screams are heard, then he reappears, arguing with the man outside the truck. Three shotgun shots are then fired.
Prosecutor George E. Barnhill, the District Attorney for Waycross Judicial District in Georgia, subsequently withdrew from the case and the state resumed investigation.
The three men also face state charges of malicious murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. No date has been set for a trial.