WASHINGTON — A grand jury has charged three men with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man who was shot while jogging in the southern US state of Georgia last year.
Gregory McMichael, 65; his son, Travis McMichael, 35; and William “Roddie” Bryan, 51, were each charged with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping, according to a Justice Department statement released on Wednesday.
Travis and Gregory McMichael also face charges of using guns to inflict violence, said a NPR report.
The indictment alleges that the defendants used force and threats to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his skin color.
Arbery was chased, shot and killed while jogging outside Brunswick on Feb 23, 2020. No charges had been filed in the case until a cellphone video of the shooting went viral in early May that year, making it a national case.
According to police reports cited by US media, Gregory McMichael, a retired police detective, saw Arbery jogging and thought he was a suspect in a series of break-ins in the neighborhood. He then called his son, and they armed themselves with a handgun and a shotgun, respectively, before chasing Arbery in a truck. Bryan saw the McMichaels driving by and joined the pursuit.
The three men were charged with nine counts in June last year, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, according to media reports.
Arbery’s tragedy fueled widespread outrage over racial inequity in the United States as African Americans are suffering a disproportionate share of the negative health and economic outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic.