Criminal Justice

Georgia attorney general asks Justice Department to probe handling of Ahmaud Arbery case

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Updated: Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said Sunday he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate how authorities handled the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

“The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers,” Carr said in a statement.

The Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have coverage.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged two white men with murder and aggravated assault on Thursday, one day after being asked to investigate, according to the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and USA Today.

The two men charged, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, said they were following Arbery because he fit the description of a burglary suspect. They had claimed that they were acting in self-defense when the shots were fired.

Gregory McMichael is a former investigator for the district attorney in Brunswick, who was the first prosecutor to recuse herself from the case. The second district attorney to review the case also recused himself after Arbery’s mother complained that the district attorney’s son had also worked with McMichael. Before doing so, the second district attorney watched the video and concluded that the shooting was self-defense, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Arbery’s father is represented by well-known civil right lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the Daily Report Online reports. Arbery’s mother is represented by lawyer S. Lee Merritt. But a different lawyer who had been linked to the suspects says he leaked the video that led to growing outrage over the shooting.

Georgia criminal defense lawyer Alan David Tucker says he released the video for “absolute transparency,” report First Coast News and GPB News.

Reynolds had been rumored to be representing the two suspects, but he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that he hasn’t been retained by anyone at that point.

“I didn’t release this [video] to ‘show that they did nothing wrong,’ as is being circulated. I was raised in this community,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I love this community … My sole purpose in releasing the video was absolute transparency because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions.”

The video shows Arbery jogging in Satilla Shores, a subdivision about 15 minutes south of downtown Brunswick. Arbery slows down for a white pickup truck blocking the street. A man is outside the truck, and another is in the bed of the truck.

Arbery circles around the truck and encounters a man holding a shotgun. The two men tussle. Shots can be heard.

The man who recorded the video lives close to Travis McMichael. Tucker said he obtained the video from the man who recorded it.

Reynolds said at the Friday news conference that the video was a key piece of evidence, and he found it “extremely upsetting” and “troubling.”

Story updated on May 11 to report that the Georgia attorney general asked the Justice Department to investigate.

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