Ahmaud Arbery Shooting Video Sparks Outrage, Calls For Arrest After Unarmed Black Man’s Killing

Police lights flash on a cruiser.
KALI9ISTOCK / Pixabay

A newly released video of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery has sparked outrage and calls for arrests in the shooting that left him dead following a controversial encounter in February.

Arbery was shot to death on February 23 while he was running through a quiet neighborhood in the coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. As NBC News reported, family members said that the 25-year-old was a fitness buff and went for a daily jog, but a pair of men reportedly suspected he was a burglar and chased him down, leading to a struggle and a pair of gunshots that left him fatally wounded.

The case had already generated national interest as the unarmed black man was allegedly shot by two white men — 64-year-old Gregory McMichael, and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael. Police had not charged the pair, with prosecutors saying that they acted within the scope of a citizen’s arrest in Georgia and that they claimed Arbery was the aggressor in the struggle that led to his shooting.

But as The Grio noted, the decision was controversial as the elder McMichael is a retired investigator in the district attorney’s office, leading District Attorney George E. Barnhill to recuse himself and have the case transferred to a nearby county.

Many believe the clip released on Tuesday by family attorney Lee Merritt casts doubt on the initial account of Arbery as the aggressor. Merritt said in a statement that the video shows Arbery running down a road when he appeared to be stopped by two gun-wielding men, not posing a threat to them and doing nothing wrong.

“The video clearly shows Mr. Arbery jogging down the road in the middle of the day,” Merritt said, via NBC News. “Mr. Arbery had not committed any crime and there was no reason for these men to believe they had the right to stop him with weapons or to use deadly force in furtherance of their unlawful attempted stop.”

With the release of the clip, many called on local authorities to arrest the alleged attackers. Others compared Arbery’s fatal shooting to the killing of Trayvon Martin, who was also unarmed and killed after being mistaken for a burglar. In both cases, police did not immediately arrest the alleged shooters, sparking national interest and outrage among many who saw a double standard for the killing of the two young black men.

It was unclear whether a grand jury could move forward in the killing of Arbery, as the state of Georgia has put court proceedings on hold amid the coronavirus outbreak.