The senseless death of Ahmaud Arbery affected many people personally. It inspired tributes including a mural in Brunswick, Georgia, where Arbery lived. (Photo courtesy of Judson McCranie)
It has been a year since Ahmaud Arbery’s death. His tragic death was one of the reasons why the Black Lives Matter movement gained so much traction last summer. Now a year later, we can see what occurred in his case and what happened over the course of a year.
That Fateful Day
Last year, Arbery was just a 25 year old living just outside of Brunswick, Georgia.
On Sunday, February 13, Arbery was out jogging in Satilla Shores when a man noticed him, according to a police report. The man, Gregory McMichael, grabbed his son Travis along with two guns and began to chase Arbery in a pickup truck. McMichael stated that his reason for going after Arbery was because he looked like a suspect involved in multiple break-ins in the area.
A third man also became involved in the chase, William Bryan or “Roddy” according to the report. He apparently attempted to block Arbery from running and recorded the events of that day.
Eventually, they pulled up to Arbery, and Travis McMichael got out of the truck with a shotgun. McMichael stated that the man had begun to violently attack Travis. “The two men then started fighting over the shotgun at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot,” said McMichael in the report.
Police reports show that Arbery was not armed.
For more than two months after Ahmaud Arbery’s death, there were no arrests made.
According to the New York Times, the case was bounced around multiple times due to officials recusing themselves. Both Jackie Johnson and George E. Barnhill were connected to Gregory McMichael, which created a conflict in interest. But before Barnhill officially recused himself, he sent a letter to the Glynn County Police Department arguing that there was “not sufficient probable cause to arrest Mr. Arbery’s pursuers”.
In early May, a video depicting the incident leaked through a local radio station by Gregory McMichael himself. According to Brunswick attorney Alan Tucker, McMichael wanted to leak the video because “he hoped the public would see them trying to make a citizen’s arrest on a young man that was running from a home under construction”.
What ended up happening was the opposite of what McMichael wanted.
The video sparked public outrage where thousands of people called for the McMichaels to be arrested for Arbery’s murder. ABC 10 stated that due to this outrage, the GBI began investigating and arrested the McMichaels only two days later.
In the year since Arbery’s death, we have seen many legal proceedings following the case.
The McMichaels plead not guilty to charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. They would later be joined by William Bryan, who was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. He also plead not guilty.
Preliminary hearings ended with the three remaining in jail because the judge found probable cause to proceed on the murder charges. The hearings also revealed new information such as the use of racial slurs during the incident.
A few months later, new and disturbing bodycam footage shows the last moments of Arbery’s life. Travis McMichael also seemed remorseful of his actions but claimed that he had no choice but to shoot Arbery.
A Year Later…
A year later, Georgia went through many changes since Arbery’s death.
The Brunswick District Attorney was voted out of office due to her handling of the Arbery case. Georgia also passed new anti-hate crime legislation and has been looking at removing the citizens arrest law that was used to justify the shooting.
Neither the McMichaels nor Bryan have been arrested for their crimes, but a new lawsuit has been filed claiming that the men who killed him violated his civil rights.
“I’m having to accept every day that he’s gone, and he’s never coming back. As far as even when we get people to go to prison, Ahmaud is never coming back. That’s the end. I mean, [if] they go to prison but Ahmaud never comes home,” Arbery’s mother said to ABC 10.
According to First Coast News, Arbery’s family will hold multiple events in his memory, including a community walk in Satilla Shores, a candlelight vigil at his gravesite and a parade on Saturday, February 27.
Ahmaud Arbery was a normal 25-year-old man when he died a tragic death. A lot has happened in the year since his death, both good and bad. His death was a launching point for change, but many still believe his killers should be in jail, paying for their crimes.
But, no matter what someone believes, it is still important to remember Arbery and what happened on Sunday, February 13.
Hi! My name is Cassidy and I am a staff writer for The Mycenaean. I am also a member of Book Club and Tech Theatre.