Investigators Call Evidence in the Ahmaud Arbery Shooting ‘Extremely Upsetting’

#IRunWithMaud #JusticeforAhmaudArbery


A father and son were arrested Thursday in connection with the Feb. 23 killing of Mr. Arbery, which had led to protests and 2.23-mile runs to show support, under the hashtag #IRunWithMaud.


RIGHT NOW “It got the truth out there as to what you could see,” said a local lawyer who released the explosive video at the heart of the case.


Brandy Rubin, left, and her sister Casey left flowers at a memorial where jogger Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in Brunswick, Ga., on Thursday.


Investigators who charged the two men called the evidence in the case ‘extremely upsetting.’


Law enforcement officials in Georgia said on Friday there was more than sufficient probable cause to justify charging two men with murder in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.

The charges against Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, came after the case was moved to a third prosecutor and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called upon this week to investigate.

“I can’t answer what another agency did or didn’t see,” Vic Reynolds, the G.B.I. director, said at a news conference on Friday. “But I can tell you that based on our involvement in this case and considering the fact we hit the ground running Wednesday morning and within 36 hours we had secured warrants for two individuals for felony murder, I think that speaks volumes for itself.”

He called the video of the shooting, released this week, compelling evidence. “It was extremely upsetting,” he said. “On a human level, it’s troubling.”



Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was killed after an encounter with the McMichaels, who are white. Mr. Arbery was killed in Satilla Shores, a quiet middle-class enclave about 15 minutes from downtown Brunswick and a short jog from Mr. Arbery’s neighborhood. A police report said the McMichaels had grabbed two guns and followed Mr. Arbery in a truck after he ran past them.

The shooting happened on Feb. 23, but the case did not receive broader attention until recently, after a video was widely shared showing the shooting. Officials on Friday said that the video had been “a very important piece” of evidence in moving forward with criminal charges.


“I think you have to remember our role is to do our best to remove our emotions from a case and look at facts,” Mr. Reynolds told reporters after the news conference. “But certainly when you see that, you become pretty enraged in watching it. You have set that aside and you have say, looking at all the evidence, is there probable cause here?”

Officials said the charges, coming months after the shooting, had not been driven by the surge of attention around the country, with elected officials, prominent activists and celebrities weighing in and urging action.



“We don’t let that influence the decision,” Tom Durden of Georgia’s Atlantic Judicial Circuit, the latest prosecutor to take on the case, said at the Friday news conference. “We have made the decision based on what we feel like is the applicable law and our interpretation of the evidence that has been uncovered.”



Mr. Reynolds said that the arrest warrants were issued and the two men were arrested at home on Thursday evening.


‘There he goes!’ a caller to 911 said. Audio and video recorded parts of the confrontation that ended Mr. Arbery’s life.

In the minutes before Mr. Arbery was shot, a man called the police to report that an intruder was inside a house that was under construction in the neighborhood. While on the call, the man reported that the intruder — described as a black man in a white T-shirt — had taken off running down the street.

“There he goes right now!” the man, whose identity was redacted on the audio, told the dispatcher, according to 911 calls obtained by The New York Times.

Pressing the caller for more information, the dispatcher asked what, exactly, the man had done. “I just need to know what he was doing wrong,” she said. “Was he just on the premises and not supposed to be?”

“He’s been caught on the camera a bunch before,” the man said. “It’s kind of an ongoing thing out here.”


Several minutes later, at 1:14 p.m., another 911 call came in from an unidentified man who reported a “black male running down the street.” Sounding slightly breathless, he said he did not know the address.


“I don’t know what street we’re on,” the man said, before a sudden commotion in which he appeared to shout “stop!” and “Travis!” before going silent for the rest of the four-minute call.


Friends and family of Mr. Arbery said they believed that he had been out jogging on Feb. 23, as he often did. Mr. Arbery was wearing a white T-shirt, khaki shorts, Nike sneakers and a bandanna when he was killed.

Video of the shooting, taken from inside a vehicle, shows Mr. Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white truck, with a man standing beside its open driver’s-side door. Another man is in the bed of the pickup.

Mr. Arbery runs around the truck and disappears briefly from view. Muffled shouting can be heard before Mr. Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.


Police records show other 911 calls from the neighborhood in recent months.

When the police arrived after the shooting, Gregory McMichael said that Mr. Arbery had looked like the suspect in a string of break-ins in the area.

Since last August, there had been at least three calls to police about a man trespassing on a property in the neighborhood, according to documents released by the Glynn County Police Department in response to a public records request. In the weeks before the shooting, Travis McMichael had also called to report that a firearm had been stolen from his truck.


In October, a caller reported that a man had been seen on a camera system for a property that was being built in the neighborhood. In November, the same caller again reported something similar.

On Feb. 11, another call was made to 911 by someone who said he had caught a man trespassing in a house. The caller, who said he had not seen the man before, had “just chased him” and was sitting outside the house, waiting for police to respond, in a red Ford 150 pickup, the same kind of truck that Travis McMichael reported a weapon stolen from weeks earlier.

The identity of the caller or callers was redacted from the reports.


Video shows the confrontation that ended Mr. Arbery’s life.

Mr. Arbery was wearing a white T-shirt, khaki shorts, Nike sneakers and a bandanna when he was killed. His friends and family have said they believed that he had been out exercising.

The video of the shooting, taken from inside a vehicle, shows Mr. Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white truck, with a man standing beside its open driver’s-side door. Another man is in the bed of the pickup.

Mr. Arbery runs around the truck and disappears briefly from view. Muffled shouting can be heard before Mr. Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.


Gregory McMichael later told the police that Mr. Arbery looked like the suspect in a string of nearby break-ins. But according to media reports, there had been just one reported burglary in the neighborhood this year, the theft of a handgun from an unlocked truck parked outside Travis McMichael’s house.



A local defense lawyer said he publicly released the explosive video. His ties to the McMichaels are unclear.


In the latest twist in the small-town politics of this case, a criminal defense lawyer in Brunswick, Ga., who had informally consulted with the McMichaels, said he was the one who leaked video footage of the shooting.

The video, which surfaced earlier this week, intensified public pressure and was cited by the authorities as an important piece of evidence to support pressing charges.

The lawyer, Alan Tucker, said in a phone interview on Friday that he got the video from the cellphone of the man who had filmed it. He later gave the footage to a local radio station so that the public could see what had happened.

“It wasn’t two men with a Confederate flag in the back of a truck going down the road and shooting a jogger in the back,” he said, citing rumors that he said had fueled tensions in the community.

“It got the truth out there as to what you could see,” he said. “My purpose was not to exonerate them or convict them.”



A local television station, First Coast News, previously reported that Mr. Tucker had consulted with Travis McMichael on his conversations with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, advising him to “keep his mouth shut.” On Friday, Mr. Tucker declined to comment on his conversations with the McMichaels, citing attorney-client privilege.

“I’m not going to tell you what I told them or what they told me,” he said, using profanity to say that any conversations — if they occurred, he said — were none of the public’s business.

At times during the interview, a woman could be heard in the background whispering suggested answers to Mr. Tucker. Though NBC News reported that Mr. Tucker was a “family friend” of the McMichaels, a representative for Mr. Tucker said later on Friday afternoon that he was an acquaintance of the family who knew Gregory McMichael from his work at the district attorney’s office.

By Friday afternoon, Mr. Tucker said that it had been decided that he would not be retained as the lawyer for either of the McMichaels and that he did not represent them in any formal capacity.


At a rally in Georgia, community members welcomed the arrests but said they had taken too long.


On Friday, Mr. Arbery would have celebrated his 26th birthday. But instead, a crowd of protesters — almost all wearing masks — packed in front of the Glynn County Courthouse to demand justice in his death.

“I will always run with Maud,” one of his aunts told the assembly from the courthouse steps, referring to her nephew’s nickname and what has become a hashtag rallying cry — #irunwithmaud — after his death drew the notice of elected officials, prominent activists and celebrities around the country.

“That could have easily been me,” another speaker, who pointed out that he, too, was a 26-year-old black man, told the crowd. “It could have easily been you.”



Despite the murder charges, many in the crowd still expressed their outrage over the handling of the case. They noted the time that went by without any charges.