Travis McMichael, 35, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66 on Friday were sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of Black American jogger Ahmaud Arbery. Another accused, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52 – neighbour of the McMichaels – was sentenced with lifetime imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
These three were convicted in November of multiple counts of murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.
These three killed Ahmaud Arbery after chasing him on their pickup trucks near Brunswick in Georgia in February 2020. The father-son duo along with William Bryan chased Arbery as he was jogging through the Satilla Shores neighbourhood, accusing him of burglary without any evidence. The law enforcement agency in Georgia failed to make an arrest for several months but a leaked video of the incident led to a national outrage and added to the anger of Americans who were already urging for racial justice following the death of George Floyd.
“He left his home apparently to go for a run and he ended up running for his life,” Georgia superior court judge Timothy Walmsley was quoted as saying by news agency AFP. He also said that it was a tragedy ‘on many, many levels’, according to a report by the news agency.
“They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency. They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community,” Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones was quoted as saying by news agency AFP. She also said that the murder was not a case of mistaken identity.
Here is all you need to know –
- Travis McMichael, his father and retired police officer Gregory McMichael were not charged for several months. They claimed to have made a ‘citizen’s arrest’ – allowed in the state of Georgia at that time – when initially charged with murder of Arbery. The jury, which was mostly white, rejected that argument.
- The local law enforcement also stalled investigation into the murder in the initial months after Arbery’s murder. Jackie Johnson, a local prosecutor, was indicted for allegedly hindering the investigation into the death of Arbery. She was indicted for violating her oath of office.
- William “Roddie” Bryan, the other person charged along with the father-son duo, will be eligible for parole after 30 years. Bryan cooperated with the police. He also shot the graphic video which captured Arbery’s murder.
- Bryan and the McMichaels stopped Arbery while jogging despite the latter trying to avoid them. They blocked him using their pickup trucks and Travis McMichael arrested him.
- Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented the Arberys, believes that these three would not have been prosecuted if there was no sustained pressure from the community.