Three white men from the state of Georgia will stand trial starting Monday for the shooting death of a black runner that sparked a national outcry and fueled demands for social justice in USA.
Gregory McMichael, 65, her son Travis, 35, and his neighbor William Bryan, 52, have been charged with murder and aggravated battery after persecuting Ahmaud Arbery, 25, and shot in February 2020.
The father and son followed Arbery in a van, while Bryan he did it in his own vehicle and filmed the scene.
After an altercation, Travis McMichael opened fire and killed Arbery. The three men claim they mistook the broker for an active thief in the area and invoked a Georgia law that allows ordinary citizens to make arrests.
Local prosecutors, for whom Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer, had worked for a long time, no arrests were made in the case for almost three months.
It was only after the video of the shooting spread online and went viral on social media that the case was transferred to the state police and the three suspects were arrested and charged.
George Floyd’s death two weeks later at the knees of a white police officer in Minneapolis reignited a national debate about racial justice and police violence against African Americans, and Arbery became one of the symbols of the national Black Lives protests. Matter.
“A black man should be able to jog without fear for his life”, President Joe Biden tweeted on the anniversary of Arbery’s death.
The jury selection is expected to last for several days, given the intense media scrutiny of the case.
The defendants will likely argue that they were acting in self-defense and that Arbery was resisting legal arrest.
Prosecutors will insist that the victim was unarmed and that nothing linked her to a series of robberies that occurred in the neighborhood where she was jogging.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who has represented several African American families in high-profile police violence cases, said he hopes the court will “bring justice to Ahmaud and his family.”
“If these killers get away without consequences, it is sending a message that the lynching of black men in 2021 carries no sanction.”
Since the death of Arbery, Georgia has passed a law that imposes additional penalties for crimes motivated by racial hatred, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics of the victim.
The mother of Arbery has filed a separate civil lawsuit demanding a million dollars against McMichaels and Bryan, but also against local authorities, accused of trying to cover up the case.
One of the local prosecutors, Jackie Johnson, was charged last month with violating his oath of office and allegedly obstructing the investigation into the death of Arbery.
The three defendants also face separate federal hate crime charges and a trial is scheduled for February.