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Georgia Officials Scramble to Respond After Leaked Video of Shooting Death of Unarmed Black Man Sparks Protests, Nationwide Outrage

It has been two months since a Brunswick, Georgia, man was shot and killed as he was jogging through a local neighborhood, but with the recent emergence of a video capturing the fatal shooting state officials have been pressured to respond.

Late in the evening of the day the video was leaked to activist Shaun King and a local news outlet, the state’s Attorney General, Chris Carr, said that he was “deeply concerned with the events” that led to the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

“I expect justice to be carried out as swiftly as possible,” he wrote in a May 5 statement that was posted on his Twitter page Tuesday night. “And I stand ready to support GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigations) Director Reynolds, DA Durden and the local community.”

His tweet, however, was met with users calling him out for his late response.

“This means nothing, absolutely nothing,” one user, Andrew Ethier, replied. “Two months later and no arrests!? This. means. nothing.”

“So it takes public pressure to get you to do your damn job!” another user wrote. “The leadership in GA is a joke. This man deserves justice and you have sat on your hands doing nothing until this video forced your hand. We are outraged by your purported justice system. You should be held accountable!”

Neither Gregory McMichael, or his son, Travis, has been charged since the Feb. 23 slaying. In a statement, Lee Merrit, the Arbery family’s attorney, said his office believes George Barnhill, the previous DA on the case before his recusal in the face of claims of his conflicts of interest, had been sitting on the same leaked video since the day of the killing.

“Mr. Arbery’s family has made multiple request for access to this video which have been denied,” he said. “As a result of local law enforcement’s failure to share the video with the victim’s family they will see this horrific murder for the first time on the internet.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones, told First Coast News that she remembers seeing her son come into the world, and did not plan on seeing the final moments of his life.

“He was my baby boy that I had on Mother’s Day of 1994,” she said. “He was his sister and brother’s keeper…his spirit was good. He was yes, ma’am and no ma’am type fellow.”

Barnhill had been preparing to invoke Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute to absolve the men of culpability in the slaying prior to the family asking him to step back from the case.

On Wednesday hundreds of locals flocked to the Georgia State Capitol, the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office in Brunswick and the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Arbery was killed demanding that action be taken against Gregory and Travis McMichael.

Some who took part in the protests held “I run with Maud” signs and shirts, Action News Jax reports. The sheriff was also present to monitor Wednesday’s protest inside of the Satilla Shores neighborhood.

Special prosecutor for the case Tom Durden, the district attorney for the neighboring Atlantic Judicial Circuit, said Tuesday the case will be presented to the next available grand jury in Glynn County to consider whether charges will be brought against the McMichaels.

The GBI initially reacted Tuesday afternoon to the firestorm created by the video’s appearance by releasing a statement saying it was not investigating Arbery’s death but it was looking into the leak of the footage as well as allegations of threats against the Glynn County Police Department and the two McMichaels.

By later Tuesday evening the agency would adopt a new posture, releasing a one-sentence statement saying it now is actively investigating the circumstances of the slaying itself. As outrage over the video evidence built over a day, the agency’s director, Vic Reynolds, held a public press conference late Wednesday afternoon to explain that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp had directed him to coordinate with the special prosecutor to investigate Arbery’s killing.

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