A federal grand jury has charged the three men involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery with federal hate crime charges.
The grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia made the indictment Wednesday.
According to federal prosecutors Gregory and Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan, used force and intimidated the young man because he was black. They are all facing murder charges after Arbery’s death last year.
In an interview for Channel 2, Joyette Holmes, the former Cobb County District Attorney said that she never had a shred of doubt the man’s death was a hate crime. Holmes served as the special prosecutor in the murder case against the three suspects for a large part of the process. She believes the recent indictments against the trio send a strong message.
“It’s telling the story of what this case was just bringing forward for the public. Unfortunately, the evil that was seen and that was done to Ahmaud Arbery on that day,” Holmes said. “I was very happy to hear that the indictments came down.”
U.S. indicts 3 on hate crime charges in death of Ahmaud Arbery https://t.co/bn7GNjxcxF pic.twitter.com/yGgKUdEjtf
— CTV News (@CTVNews) April 29, 2021
In 2020, an investigator made a testimony saying that Travis McMichael was heard using a racist curse word after shooting Arbery.
An attorney for Travis McMichael said in a statement:
“We are deeply disappointed that the Justice Department bought the false narrative that the media and state prosecutors have promulgated. There is absolutely nothing in the indictment that identifies how this is a federal hate crime and it ignores without apology that Georgia law allows a citizen to detain a person who was committing burglaries until police arrive.”
There is no justice that will bring Ahmaud Arbery back, but I pray that today’s federal indictments against his killers are a first step toward giving Ahmaud's family and community some semblance of peace, and the closure they deserve. https://t.co/rhP1odmfnG
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) April 28, 2021
Frank Hogue, a lawyer for Gregory McMichael, told the court that the three men acted in self-defense and that race had nothing to do with it.
“We believe this murder case in Glynn County as defensible. We view any hate crime prosecution by the federal government as immensely winnable,” he said.
“The federal may wait for the state to complete, but they don’t have to. It’s completely separate,” said attorney Chinwe Foster, who isn’t involved in the trial.
BREAKING: Justice Dept. indicts Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping charges in connection to the death of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/AphZQDC6pS
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 28, 2021
Foster said each of the men’s cases could bring its own sentences.
“In this case, I’m sure that they could try to stack life sentences if they were found guilty,” he said.
Holmes had to abandon ship after she was voted out of the Cobb County DA’s back in 2020.
Yes!! It is as it should be. Taking another HUMAN BEING'S life is illegal. #AhmaudAubrey's life mattered! 👊🏿👊🏿💛💛🙌🏿🙌🏿https://t.co/mHqi9xn8SH
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) April 28, 2021
A date for the trial has not yet been set, and a new lead prosecutor was announced this week.
Holmes said she is hopeful the jury will do the right thing.
“I would hope that they would find the three defendants in this case guilty of the charges,” she said.
Lee Merritt, an attorney who represents Arbery’s family, made a statement on Wednesday saying:
“On behalf of the family of Ahmaud Arbery, we are grateful that a federal grand jury has handed down these important hate crime indictments. Hate cost Ahmaud Arbery his life and has done catastrophic damage to his family and community. This federal prosecution is an indication that racial violence will not be tolerated and will serve as a fail-safe to the prosecution at the state level. Next week Ahmaud’s family will celebrate what would have been his 27th Birthday with the official launch of the Ahmaud Arbery foundation. It is our hope that this news will provide his community some reprieve as we continue to honor his legacy.”
Bryan’s lawyer also made a statement Wednesday, saying:
“We are very disappointed with the decision of the Department of Justice to pursue the prosecution of Mr. Bryan. Roddie Bryan has committed no crime. We look forward to a fair and speedy trial, and to the day when Mr. Bryan is released and reunited with his family.”
I think of Ahmaud Arbery every time I go for a run. Every time.
— Kimberly Atkins (@KimberlyEAtkins) April 28, 2021
Those on Arbery’s side have been saying that he was only jogging through the neighborhood that day.
The three men never faced state hate crime charges in Georgia because the new law passed after the incident had already taken place. Ever since the start of this case, the state has also scrapped the citizens arrest law that dated back to the Civil War.
The McMichaels have claimed they were executing a citizen's arrest and had acted in self-defense. Cell phone footage of Arbery's death sparked outrage across the country and…
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) April 28, 2021
They also face a lawsuit that the mother filed on the one-year anniversary of her son’s passing.
The lawsuit also names Glynn County police and Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill, the district attorneys who were in charge of the case at first
On Wednesday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump made a statement, saying:
“Today is yet another step in the right direction as we seek justice for Ahmaud Arbery and his grieving family by holding those responsible for his death accountable to the fullest extent of the law. This is an important milestone in America’s uphill march toward racial justice, and we applaud the Justice Department for treating this heinous act for what it is — a purely evil, racially motivated hate crime.”
NEWS ALERT: @AttorneyCrump responds to federal hate crime charges against Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan — the three men responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s death. pic.twitter.com/mnND9Zd8pq
— Ben Crump Law, PLLC (@BenCrumpLaw) April 28, 2021
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