Recorded on video murdering a black man jogging through their neighborhood, a former police officer, his son, and a neighbor were convicted in federal court of committing a hate crime and attempted kidnapping. A federal jury also found the ex-cop and his son guilty of firearms charges.
On February 23, 2020, former Glynn County Police Department detective, Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves with a .357 Magnum revolver and a Remington shotgun, respectively, before chasing Ahmaud Arbery, who had been jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. Their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the pursuit as Arbery continued running down the street.
Despite the fact that Arbery did not commit a crime and was clearly unarmed, the McMichaels and Bryan attempted to box in Arbery with their trucks. As Bryan recorded a cellphone video of the pursuit, Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery with a shotgun.
On November 24, 2021, Travis McMichael was found guilty on all state charges, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. His father, Gregory McMichael, was found not guilty of malice murder, but the jury found him guilty on the other eight charges.
Bryan was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was cleared on the charge of malice murder, felony murder involving aggravated assault with a firearm, and the count of aggravated assault with a firearm.
On January 7, 2022, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced the McMichaels to life in prison without parole. Bryan received a life sentence with a chance to earn parole after serving at least 30 years in prison.
On Tuesday, the McMichaels and Bryan were each convicted in federal court of one count of using force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race. According to text messages, social media comments, witness testimony revealed at trial, all three defendants had strongly held racist beliefs that led them to make assumptions and decisions about Arbery that they would not have made if Arbery had been white.
In addition to the hate crime charges, the three defendants were found guilty of attempted kidnapping. Travis McMichael was also found guilty of using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a Remington shotgun in the course of the hate crime, and Gregory McMichael was found guilty of using, carrying, and brandishing a .357 Magnum revolver.
“Today’s verdict makes clear that the Justice Department will continue to use every resource at its disposal to confront unlawful acts of hate, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press release on Tuesday. “Although we welcome the jury’s verdict, the only acceptable outcome in this matter would have been Mr. Arbery returning safely to his loved ones two years ago. No one in this country should have to fear the threat of hate fueled violence. No one should fear being attacked or threatened because of what they look like, where they are from, whom they love, or how they worship. And no one should fear that if they go out for a run, they will be targeted and killed because of the color of their skin.”
“I, as a mom, will never heal,” Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper Jones told reporters. “It’s been a very long stressful fight.”
All three defendants face sentences of up to life in federal prison.