Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, spoke on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday about the involvement of Donald Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) in the high-profile case.
As reported by Breitbart, Merritt said the DOJ has been “very responsive” to the case, which he noted is one that can “easily get lost” in politics.
“It’s easy to focus on that and not the details, but the federal agents in the DOJ and the U.S. attorneys that I’ve been speaking with are all about the facts and the law, and because of that, I think they’re very motivated to get some additional charges and prosecutions in this case.”
Arbery was gunned down by Travis McMichael, who followed the 25-year-old Georgia man along with his father, Gregory, and William “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed the incident. The McMichaels said Arbery was suspected in a string of robberies in the neighborhood and claimed they attempted to make a citizen’s arrest before shooting him in self-defense. However, subsequent video footage of the attack shined doubt on the self-defense statement and reports conflicted with claims of an alleged string of burglaries.
Merritt expressed concern at Trump’s initial evaluation of the incident but claimed that the DOJ has been “very active” in the case, which the department is allegedly investigating as a hate crime. To accomplish this, Merritt says that investigators will need to “get into the mind” of the accused.
“You do have to get into the mind of the actors [to prove a hate crime]. A hate crime is one of the few crimes where you actually do have to prove motive, and that’s a difficult thing to do with that with the absence of [Ku Klux Klan] regalia or racial slurs.”
Merrit noted that hate crimes rely on proving racial implications linked to specific behavior. In particular, investigators will examine whether other members of the community faced the same response to trespassing that Arbery did. As Merritt noted, dozens of people entered the construction site where Arbery was accused of stealing from. Merritt pointed out that the only person who was met with deadly force was Arbery, and the only thing separating Arbery from the other trespassers was his African American heritage.
Both the McMichaels and Bryan are facing murder charges for Arbery’s death. While the McMichael’s claim Arbery was killed in self-defense, Bryan claims he was not a part of the incident and only got involved when he saw Arbery being followed by the McMichaels.