The white ex-cop, 64, arrested and charged with the murder of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery had investigated the victim previously, according to a new report.
Gregory McMichael, who worked as an investigator in the Brunswick DA’s office, helped prosecute Arbery, 25, in the past, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill revealed in a letter recusing himself from the case.
The arrest of William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, the driver of a second car who filmed the fatal shooting, has not been ruled out the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a press conference Friday .
‘Don’t know yet – we’ll go wherever the evidence takes us. If there is probable cause for arrest, we’ll do it. If there isn’t we won’t,’ said Director Vic Reynolds.
Reynolds added that it had taken just 36 hours for the GBI to make an arrest once they began assisting the probe into Arbery’s murder and that there were still ‘some things that needed to be done’ as part of the investigation.
Exclusive photos show the moment Gregory McMichael (pictured) and his son Travis McMichael were arrested at their home in Brunswick, Georgia, on Thursday
An officer with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is seen leading 34-year-old Travis McMichael out of the home in handcuffs
Travis was led out of the home without a struggle, wearing a checked shirt, cap and jeans
Gregory, 64, and Travis, 34, are pictured in their mugshots. It’s believed they are still in custody at Glynn County Jail
The scene around the $280,000 house fell quiet after law enforcement officials left with Travis and Gregory
Gregory and Travis have been charged with murder and aggravated assault for the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery
Gregory and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested at their home in Brunswick, Georgia, on Thursday and charged with Arbery’s murder.
McMichael had claimed to cops he recognized Arbery from surveillance video capturing a recent burglary in his mostly white neighborhood.
There is no evidence to suggest that Arbery was responsible for any burglaries in the area.
Exclusive photos show the moment the father and son ‘vigilantes’ accused of shooting dead unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery were arrested by heavily-armed officers in Georgia.
A four-vehicle convoy from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) pulled up outside the home of Gregory and Travis McMichael at 7.50pm Thursday to take the men into custody on charges of murder and aggravated assault.
The dramatic arrests come days after leaked cellphone video of the McMichaels’ fatal confrontation with Arbery on February 23 made headlines nationwide, sparking fevered outrage and demands for justice in what the victim’s family called a ‘lynching’.
The shocking footage showed the two men ‘ambushing’ Arbery as he tried to run past their pickup truck, the younger McMichael getting into a physical fight with Arbery before shooting him with a shotgun.
The father and son were initially not arrested after they claimed they thought Arbery was a burglar after a spate of thefts in their area, and that he attacked them when they tried to make a citizen’s arrest.
The GBI took over the investigation on Tuesday after the video emerged. Around a dozen GBI officers equipped with bulletproof vests and assault rifles descended on the McMichaels’ two-bedroom $280,000 property in suburban Brunswick to execute arrest warrants Thursday.
Attorney S. Lee Merritt, who is representing Arbery’s parents, told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s a huge, huge step but it’s only a first step on a very long road to justice.’
Officers entered the house just before 8pm and emerged minutes later with Gregory McMichael, 64, in handcuffs.
Wearing a scruffy black shirt, cap and jeans the retired cop stared straight ahead and ignored questions from DailyMail.com as he was placed in a police car.
His son Travis, 34, emerged moments later without a struggle, wearing a checked shirt, cap and jeans.
He said nothing as he was led to a vehicle in handcuffs.
Locals emerged from their homes to watch the dramatic swoop, with two people verbally abusing a DailyMail.com photojournalist, calling him ‘scum’ and ordering him to leave.
Investigators were at the house for about ten minutes before they left as abruptly as they had arrived.
A middle-aged woman carrying a young child walked out of the family house, looked up and down the street, before going to a neighbor’s home.
Officers entered the house just before 8pm and emerged minutes later with Gregory, 64, in handcuffs
Wearing a scruffy black shirt, cap and jeans, Gregory stared straight ahead and ignored questions from DailyMail.com as he was placed in a police car
Travis said nothing as he was led to a waiting law enforcement vehicle in handcuffs
Around a dozen GBI officers equipped with bulletproof vests and assault rifles descended on the McMichaels’ two-bedroom property in suburban Brunswick to execute arrest warrants on Thursday evening
A four-vehicle convoy from GBI pulled up outside the home of Gregory and Travis McMichael at around 7.50pm Thursday
The sight of so many heavily-armed law enforcement officers drew a crowd of neighbors around the house
A GBI officer is seen checking his phone after both suspects were placed into vehicles
GBI officers carried out the arrests quickly, leaving the scene about 10 minutes after they arrived
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a statement shortly after the swoops saying the two men were arrested on suspicion of murder and aggravated assault.
And in a fresh twist, the agency said it was also investigating threats made towards its officers and people involved in the investigation.
Attorney Merritt, who is representing Arbery’s parents Wanda Jones Cooper and Marcus Arbery Sr, told DailyMail.com they had no advance warning about the dramatic arrests Thursday night.
‘They heard about it on the news like everyone else,’ he said.
‘Wanda was extremely relieved but she remains very stoic as she has been since this all started.’
Merritt said he was heartened by the fact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had stepped up after the original team of police and prosecutors assigned to the case ‘failed in their duty’ to make arrests.
‘A case like this breeds mistrust within the community. It hurts the people involved, it hurts the law enforcement community, the prosecutorial community, the black community, everyone,’ he added.
The dramatic arrests come days after leaked cellphone video of the McMichaels’ fatal confrontation with Arbery on February 23 made headlines nationwide
Shocking cellphone video captured the moment the McMichaels confronted Arbery in the street. In the footage Travis is seen engaging in a physical fight with Arbery before shooting him with a shotgun
Arbery can be seen stumbling to the ground as the clip comes to a close
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she believes her son, a former football player, was just jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood before he was killed on a Sunday afternoon.
Gregory McMichael told police he suspected the runner was the same man filmed by a security camera committing a break-in. He and his grown son, Travis, grabbed guns and began a pursuit in the truck.
TIMELINE OF BOTCHED HANDLING OF THE CASE
February 23: Ahmaud Arbery is shot dead in the street in Brunswick, Georgia.
Gregory and Travis McMichael had gone out in their car with guns to chase him because they mistook him for a burglar.
When they caught up to him, Travis got out of the car.
Jackie Johnson recused herself because McMichael used to work in her office
Greg says they told Arbery that they wanted to talk to him and that he attacked Travis. A struggle ensued and Travis fired his gun twice, killing Ahmaud, 25.
Late February – First prosecutor recuses herself
Jackie Johnson, the Brunswick District Attorney, stepped down from the case because Gregory used to work in her office as an investigator.
Mid-April – Second prosecutor says he won’t press charges, then recuses himself
George Barnhill said Ahmaud initiated the fight
George Barnhill was given the case.
He at first said he did not think it merited charges because the McMichaels were acting lawfully by trying to carry out a citizen’s arrest, which is legal in Georgia.
He also said that the video ‘shows’ Arbery reaching for Travis’ gun.
Barnhill recused himself because his son, also called George Barnhill, works in the office where McMichael used to
The first shot is fired however when the pair are out of frame.
When the camera panned back to them, they were struggling again to the side of the vehicle.
Barnhill said Travis was standing his ground by firing three shots which hit Arbery.
He later had to recuse himself after it emerged that his son works in the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office, where Gregory served.
May 5 – Third prosecutor passes it on to grand jury
Tom Durden is the third prosecutor to have the case come across his desk.
He said that his office would approach it without prior prejudice.
This week, he announced that he would not make a decision on whether or not to charge, and that he wants to convene a grand jury to take it on.
May 7 – Georgia Bureau of Investigation files charges
The GBI announced that it was bringing charges of murder and aggravated assault against the Gregory and Travis on May 7.
The video shows Arbery at a jogging pace on the left side of a road. A truck is parked in the road ahead of him. Gregory is inside the pickup’s bed, while Travis is standing beside the open driver’s side door.
Arbery crosses the road to pass the pickup on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck.
A gunshot sounds, and the video shows Arbery grappling with Travis in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle. A second shot can be heard, and Arbery can be seen punching Travis. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. Arbery staggers a few feet and falls face down.
Brunswick defense attorney Alan Tucker identified himself Thursday as the person who shared the video with the radio station.
In a statement, Tucker said he does not currently represent anyone involved in the case.
He said he released the video ‘because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions’.
A 911 call made just minutes before Arbery was shot was released on Thursday morning.
‘Hello. Err, I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a black male running down the street,’ says the caller, believed to be Gregory.
‘I don’t know what street we’re on,’ he adds, distracted and out of breath, when the operator asks him for the exact address within the neighborhood.
Gregory breaks off the call suddenly with an inaudible shout, adding: ‘Goddamn it, c’mon, Travis.’
For the remainder of the 4:46-minute long call, the operator repeatedly asks in vain for information, saying ‘hello, where you at?’ without getting any reply.
That call was one of two placed to 911 relating to Arbery’s supposed suspicious behavior in the moments before the shooting, with a second made to the non-emergency number of the Brunswick Police Department.
‘There’s a guy in the house right now, a house under construction,’ says the caller, whose name has been redacted in the two-minute clip, obtained by DailyMail.com.
He tells the operator the property is at 219 or 220 Satilla Drive, which would be around 500 yards from the home where Travis and Gregory McMichael live.
‘And you said someone’s breaking into it right now?’ the operator asks.
‘No, it’s all open, it’s under construction,’ the caller explains. ‘And he’s running right now, there he goes right now.’
The operator replies: ‘Okay, what is he doing?
‘He’s running down the street,’ the caller says.
‘Okay, that’s fine. I’ll get them out there. I just need to know what he was doing wrong,’ the operator says.
The caller alleges that Arbery had been seen previously in the neighborhood.
‘He’s been caught on the camera a bunch before at night,’ he claims, ‘It’s kind of an ongoing thing out here.’
The operator asks the caller to clarify what the alleged suspect is wearing, saying someone will be sent out to ‘check it out.’
‘Black guy, white t-shirt. And he’s gone running back into the neighborhood,’ the caller adds.
A pile of flowers and other mementos is seen at the site where Arbery was killed on Thursday night
Hours before the McMichaels were arrested, Ahmaud’s mother appeared on Good Morning America and said she she believes the white father and son are being protected by law enforcement.
‘I think no arrest has been made because of the title that he carried as a retired police officer,’ Jones said.
‘They don’t feel like he was wrong because he was one of them.’
She revealed that she has not been able to bring herself to watch the video of her son’s killing that has spread through social media and sparked outrage.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever be in a mental state where I can actually watch the video,’ she said.
She added that her son, who would have turned 26 on Friday, had a ‘humbling spirit’.
‘Ahmaud was kind, Ahmaud was well mannered, Ahmaud was loved by his family and peers.
‘He didn’t deserve to go the way that he went,’ she said.
Ahmaud’s mother Wanda Jones said on Thursday that the two white men were being protected because the father is a former police detective
‘He was my baby boy that I had on Mother’s Day of 1994. He was his sister and brother’s keeper… his spirit was good. He was a yes ma’am and no ma’am type of fellow’: Arbery is pictured at right with his mom Wanda Jones
Lee Merritt, the family’s lawyer who previously described Ahmaud’s death as a ‘lynching’, said the second prosecutor involved ought to be hauled before the board of ethics for not disclosing the conflict of interest.
Speaking on Wednesday, Merritt stated during a press conference: ‘These men were not performing any police function or any duty as citizens of Georgia… these men were vigilantes, they were performing a lynching in the middle of the day.’
‘I saw my son come into the world,’ Jones said. ‘And seeing him leave the world, it’s not something that I’ll want to see ever.’
She added: ‘He was my baby boy that I had on Mother’s Day of 1994. He was his sister and brother’s keeper… his spirit was good. He was a yes ma’am and no ma’am type of fellow.’
Arbery’s father, Marcus, labeled his son’s death a ‘hate crime’.
‘My young son wasn’t doing nothing – minding his own business, running and working out. And that’s a crime? To work out and run and he ain’t breaking no law? No. Time out.’
The footage sparked widespread outrage from viewers across America, with a crowd of protesters assembling in Brunswick brandishing signs and chanting for justice.
On Wednesday, a crowd of protesters also gathered in Atlanta to raise awareness of Arbery’s death and to demand that arrests be made in the case.
FOX 5 reports that a larger demonstration is being planned for Friday – which would have marked Arbery’s 26th birthday.
Protesters gathered for a march through Brunswick on Tuesday – the same day shocking footage of Arbery’s death went viral
A larger demonstration is reportedly being planned for this coming Friday
PROSECUTOR: UNARMED AHMAUD ‘INITIATED’ FIGHT AND REACHED FOR THE GUN
The second prosecutor to be given the case was George Barnhill.
In an April 2 letter to the Glynn County Police Department – where Greg McMichael worked – he said neither he nor his son deserved to be charged because they were firstly lawful in pursuing Arbery with their guns and then in shooting him.
He argued that they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest by chasing Arbery -which is legal in Georgia – and that they had ‘solid probable cause for it’, claiming Arbery was a burglary suspect.
He said the pair intended to subdue Arbery until police arrived but that Arbery ‘initiated’ a fight by grabbing for Travis McMichael’s gun.
He went on to say that Travis was lawful in shooting him because he thinks it constitutes a stand your ground killing.
The start of their fight happens out of the camera’s view but Barnhill said Arbery’s wounds – namely the first of three which was in his right palm – showed he had reached for the gun.
He went on to say that Travis McMichael feared for his life so did not break the law by using deadly force.
Lastly, Barnhill claimed Arbery had a ‘history of mental health and prior convictions’.
Joe Biden and celebrities including LeBron James, Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner call for justice for Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery’s death has captured the attention of the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden, who sent out a tweet describing Arbery’s death as ‘murder’.
‘The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood,’ Biden tweeted late Tuesday along with a link to a Georgia district attorney recommendation that a grand jury hear the case.
‘My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now,’ the presumed Democratic nominee continued in his Twitter post. ‘It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.’
Former Democratic Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke also tweeted for justice – stating that the attack was racially motivated.
Celebrities including LeBron James, Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner also posted about the case.
LA Laker star James tweeted out an impassioned message to his 45 million Twitter followers claiming black people are profiled on the color of their skin.
‘We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!’ he wrote.
‘Can’t even go for a damn jog man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man fr ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! I’m sorry Ahmaud (Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the heavens above to your family’.
Rosanna Arquette suggested the McMichaels be charged with murder for their ‘despicable racist heinous crime.’
Serena Williams also shared a series of post on her Instagram Stories, making it clear she believed the death was racially motivated.
‘My crime? BEING BLACK,’ she wrote, assuming the voice of Arbery.