Police in Georgia said that the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed had gone weeks without a reported burglary at the time the unarmed jogger was shot in February — which a report said “debunked” the claim that he was a burglary suspect.
Arbery was shot to death in February while he was running through a neighborhood in the coastal community of Brunswick. Police said that 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael, had chased the unarmed jogger and shot him to death. The pair were not charged initially after claiming they acted in self-defense, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested them this week after a video of Arbery’s shooting was leaked, casting doubt on their claim that the 25-year-old man had attacked them.
Police now appear to dispute the claim from the father and son pair that they had suspected Arbery of committing a string of break-ins in their neighborhood. As the New York Post noted, Glynn County Police Lt. Cheri Bashlor said in an interview on CNN that there had not been a reported burglary in the neighborhood since January 1. The Post report noted that this seemed to “debunk” the claim that Arbery was a burglary suspect.
In an audio recording of a 911 call released this week, the elder McMichael could be heard saying that there was a “black male running down the street,” the Guardian reported. He did not appear to identify what crime the man was suspected of committing.
Arbery’s supporters said that there was no justification for the shooting, with family lawyer S. Lee Merritt saying the shooting was a “modern lynching.” Many supporters are also calling for an investigation as to why the men were not charged initially, as police for weeks had been in possession of the video that appeared to cast doubt on the claim that Arbery was the aggressor in the situation.
There have been other revelations about the shooting suspects, including a report that the elder McMichael did not tell police that he had a history with the victim. A report this week from The Star revealed that when district attorney Roger Barnhill recused himself from the case, he wrote a letter to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr saying that Gregory McMichael worked in the district attorney’s office as an investigator. McMichael, who retired in 2019, had helped with the prosecution of Arbery when the now-deceased man was arrested in high school on charges of carrying a weapon on campus and obstruction of a law officer.
It was not clear if the elder McMichael purposely withheld information about his past relationship with Arbery, or did not remember.