Calls for an arrest mount in Georgia shooting death of unarmed black man

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) — Dozens of Georgia protesters gathered this week to demand an arrest in the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

The unarmed black man was shot and killed Feb. 23 as he was jogging through a neighborhood, his family says.

Tom Durden, a temporary prosecutor named in Glynn County to study the case, announced Tuesday that he was recommending that a grand jury consider criminal charges in the matter.

Then cellphone video was posted on social media, apparently showing the moment Arbery was shot and killed.

“When I saw what was on the tape, I was horrified, to say the least. Literally, I began to cry,” said Dr. John Perry, of the Glynn County NAACP.

Visit WSAV to view the video.

The two men involved in the incident are white. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis told police they saw Arbery in their neighborhood and thought he matched the description of a burglary suspect and that he was possibly engaging in suspicious activity.

Armed with a pistol and a rifle, they said they followed him in their pickup truck and told him to stop. They said he wouldn’t, adding that Travis McMichael got out of the vehicle and Arbery grabbed his rifle. They said that’s when shots went off.

Perry says the video in no way depicts an attempt at a citizen’s arrest.

“It looks like it was a manhunt,” he said. “To see this young man fearing for his life, it looks like he is clearly in fear for his life and is fighting for his life.”

The older McMichael has worked in local law enforcement in Glynn County and also served as an investigator for the Glynn County-area district attorney’s office. Two local prosecutors recused themselves from the case, although both were criticized for not filing charges.

Glynn County Police Chief John Powell has also been criticized for how the investigation was conducted and for not seeking assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

Perry and others are calling for the immediate firing of Powell, who is currently on administrative leave.

On Tuesday, Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump joined the group calling for more action. He said while his agency was not involved in the investigation, he does feel for Arbery’s family.

“When I first saw the video, it was very disturbing, and if I were the parents of the young man, I would be totally like his parents and I would be wanting answers,” said Jump.

One of those attending the rally was Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt.

“We’ve been wondering all this time what really happened because we knew Ahmaud’s character, we know what kind of young man he was,” she said. “So when it happened, it took us all off guard because that’s not Ahmaud, the person they were trying to make him out to be.”

Meanwhile, political leaders, including Joe Biden and Gov. Brian Kemp, have weighed in on the incident online.

“The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood,” Biden said on Twitter. “My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now.”

Said Kemp in a tweet: “Georgians deserve answers. State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served.”

Georgia AG Chris Carr tweeted that he was “deeply concerned” after seeing the video and news reports surrounding the shooting.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds announced in a video Wednesday that at the request of Durden and with support from the governor, his agency will be investigating.

“I’m confident that we’ll do justice in this matter,” he said. “But I’m just as confident we’re going to do it the right way. Usually, the right road isn’t the quickest or the fastest way, but it’s the right way.”

Contributions to this report made by Lewis Levine, Coastal News Service

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