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Ahmaud Arbery: DOJ mulls pursuing hate crime charges against father-son duo for cold-blooded shooting

DOJ's statement comes a day after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr had asked the DOJ to investigate how the case was handled
UPDATED MAY 11, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly considering pursuing federal hate crime charges in the Ahmaud Arbery death case, where two white men in Georgia shot and killed a black man as he ran through their neighborhood.

A DOJ spokesperson, Kerry Kupec, in a statement on Monday, May 11, said: "The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue to fully support and participate in the state investigation."

"We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate," Kupec continued. "In addition, we are considering the request of the attorney general of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation. We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law."

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael (Glynn County Sheriff's Office)

Father and son duo,  64-year-old Gregory McMichael — a former police officer — and 34-year-old Travis McMichael, shot 25-year-old Arbery dead on February 23 on a street in broad daylight while he was jogging.

The pair reportedly suspected him to be a burglar they had seen on surveillance footage in the neighborhood and decided to confront him and make a citizen's arrest. After a video of the assault was recently released on social media, the incident sparked a widespread racial outcry in the country and has led many to question why the suspects were arrested only after the outrage. No arrests were made in the case for over two months.

The Justice Department's statement comes a day after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr had asked the DOJ to investigate how the case was handled by Georgia law enforcement. Prior to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's involvement in the case last week, two prosecutors were replaced after they cited a potential conflict of interest as both had connections to Gregory McMichael.

"We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Carr said in a statement. “The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers."

The latest development has come a few days after another video of Arbery emerged showing him at a construction site shortly before his death. The clip shows the 25-year-old walking around at the site and then leaving empty-handed. 

Arbery family's lawyers have said that the recent video has bolstered their position that the 25-year-old did nothing wrong. "Ahmaud’s actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law,” the lawyers wrote in a social media post. "This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified."