Ahmaud Arbery killing: Father-son duo Travis, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan charged with hate crime
The 25-year-old Black man who went out jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, was reportedly shot dead by Travis after the trio chased him down
Father-son duo Travis and Gregory McMichael, along with William 'Roddie' Bryan, were charged with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping for allegedly killing Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020. The 25-year-old Black man who went out jogging in Brunswick, Glynn County in Georgia, was reportedly shot by Travis after he and his 64-year-old father chased him in their truck in Satilla Shores neighborhood. Bryan reportedly joined the McMichaels as they chased the victim and helped them trail him. He also captured the video of the killing on his cellphone that eventually got leaked, sparking national outrage.
Gregory McMichael, a 65-year-old former police officer, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and William 'Roddie' Bryan, 51, were taken into custody in May 2020. While the McMichaels were initially charged with murder and aggravated assault, Bryan was charged with murder and attempt to illegally detain and confine. In July last year, they pleaded not guilty to their charges, However, now the federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia has charged the three with hate crimes. A date for their trial is yet to be set by the court.
What are the new charges against the suspects?
In a statement released on April 28, 2021, the Department of Justice stated, "Counts One and Two of the indictment allege that the defendants used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race. Specifically, Count One of the indictment alleges that as Arbery was running on a public street in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia, Travis and Gregory McMichael armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck, and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighborhood while yelling at him, using their truck to cut off his route, and threatening him with firearms. Count One also alleges that the offense resulted in Arbery’s death. Count Two alleges that William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and used his truck to cut off Arbery’s route."
In addition, the McMichaels have been charged with one count each of 'using, carrying and brandishing' firearms, while Travis also faces the charge of discharging the same. All three of them face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
According to NPR, attorneys for all the three suspects expressed their disappointment and displeasure with the new court ruling. They insisted that there was 'absolutely nothing' in the indictment to identify the case as a 'federal hate crime'.
In June 2020, the prosecutors for the case stated in court that the alleged killers Gregory and Travis McMichael had used the N-word to abuse Arbery after allegedly shooting him.
Who are Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William 'Roddie' Bryan?
Gregory McMichael had been a former police officer who was stripped of his law enforcement certification and power to arrest a year before he reportedly killed Ahmaud Arbery. He had worked in the past for the Glynn County Police Department and the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, both of which had jurisdiction over the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Arbery was killed.
His son, Travis McMichael, who is believed to have discharged the shots at Arbery, had earlier served in the Coast Guard. He had used anti-Black racial slurs on multiple occasions. He even texted a friend "shooting a crackhead [C-word] with gold teeth" after Arbery's death, though his friend bizarrely claimed that Travis was referring to a raccoon.
Meanwhile, William Bryan Jr is the subject of investigation in a sex crime by GBI, in addition to the killing of Arbery. "On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, the Glynn County Police Department requested that the GBI initiate a sex crimes investigation based on allegations made against William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr. The investigation is active and ongoing," stated a release by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation though the details of the case have not been revealed.