BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Protesters took to the streets of a Brunswick neighborhood on Tuesday evening to demand justice following the release of a video that shows the February shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.
A district attorney on Tuesday recommended that a grand jury review the death of Arbery, who friends say was killed while jogging. The recommendation came on the same day that the graphic cellphone video showing the deadly confrontation between Arbery and Travis McMichael, the son of a former district attorney investigator, was posted by a Georgia radio station and circulated widely on social media sites.
On Tuesday evening, more than 100 protesters carrying signs and offering prayers walked in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, the same neighborhood where Arbery was shot and killed in February.
During the peaceful protest, Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump made his way to the middle of the crowd and expressed his frustration with the investigation.
“Am I upset that it has taken this long for a verdict or the justice part to come? As the Sheriff I am upset,” Neal said. “It shouldn’t have taken that long. If that was my son, I’d be upset. I can only imagine what the mother and dad is going through.”
No one disputes that McMichael, son of Brunswick District Attorney’s Office investigator Greg McMichael, shot and killed Arbery on Feb. 23, but he was not immediately charged because Travis McMichael claimed he was acting within the scope of a citizen’s arrest.
Arbery’s family says deadly force wasn’t necessary and they simply want to know the truth.
“We are looking for justice, and that’s what we want,” said Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt. "He’s not here to be the voice, so we are his voice.
“His words everyday if he see you today or tomorrow, it’s always, I love you,” said Kimberly Cummings, another of Arbery’s aunts.
Brunswick radio station WGIG first published the “graphic, disturbing” video that reportedly shows the incident on Tuesday afternoon.
News4Jax reviewed the 30-second cellphone video before it was removed from the radio station’s website.
(Editor’s Note: News4Jax made the editorial decision not to show the video in its entirety due to the graphic nature of its contents)
The video, which seems to have been recorded by someone driving behind the vehicle, appears to show Arbery running on Satilla Dive towards a white truck that is stopped in the middle of the street.
Travis McMichael, who appears to be standing outside the parked truck, and Arbery then become engaged in a struggle over what looks to be a shotgun.
The gunshots can be heard on the video within a seven-second span. Arbery is seen trying to run away before falling to the ground with bloodstains on his white shirt.
It’s not clear in the video who fired the fatal shots, but the shooter’s father told police that Travis McMichael fired two shots, killing Arbery.
McMichael later told police he suspected that Arbery was burglarizing houses under construction in the Brunswick neighborhood.
According to the police report, McMichael was calling for his son who “grabbed his shotgun because they didn’t know if the male was armed or not.”
Police were told the elder McMichael armed himself with his .357 handgun and the two followed Arbery for two blocks before, according to the report, McMichael shouted: “Stop, stop we want to talk to you.”
They told investigators they pulled up next to Arbery and the former investigator’s son “exited the truck with a shotgun.”
Greg McMichael told police Arbery then “violently attacked his son, and the two men started fighting over the shotgun." Travis McMichael fired two shots, killing Arbery, they told police.
Police said the McMichaels rolled Arbery over to see if he had a weapon, but no weapon was found.
A former prosecutor who had examined Arbery’s case told police the McMichaels acted within the scope of Georgia’s citizen arrest statute and that Travis McMichael fired his weapon in self-defense.
The outrage following the video’s release went far beyond Brunswick.
The Georgia NAACP on Monday said that Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson should have arrested Travis and Gregory McMichael for murder and called for her resignation.
“District Attorneys are elected to pursue justice - not engage in judicial malpractice,” the NAACP tweeted.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday said the Glynn County Police Department requested that its Kingsland office investigate the public release of the video related to the shooting death of Arbery as well as allegations of threats against people involved in the investigation.
Both investigations are active and ongoing, GBI said, but it had no plans to investigate the shooting itself.