Justice department looking at federal hate crime charges in Arbery case

Justice department looking at federal hate crime charges in Arbery case

ATLANTA — The parents of Ahmaud Arbery have met with members of the Department of Justice as they investigate why it took so long to make an arrest in the murder case, their legal team said.

The legal team said the meeting with U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District and the family happened late last week.

In a statement, the attorneys for Arbery’s parents said, in part:

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“This would involve the consideration both civil and criminal charges against state officials and conspirators involved in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. We left that meeting feeling satisfied that the DOJ would do their part to fully investigate all players involved in this murder and would hold those responsible accountable.”

In a statement, the Department of Justice said it is looking at federal hate crime charges in the case.

“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate. In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation. We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law.”

Arbery was shot and killed in February after two men got into a confrontation with Arbery and he was shot and killed in the scuffle.

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Video of the shooting was leaked on social media earlier this month, prompting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. Within hours of taking over the case, the GBI arrested and charged Gregory and Travis McMichael with murder and aggravated assault.

Just last week, the GBI announced a third arrest in the case against William “Robbie” Bryan, the man who shot the cellphone video showing the shooting that killed Arbery. The GBI charged Bryan with murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Critics say Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson mishandled the case from the beginning, before recusing herself.

But Johnson said she was barely involved because suspect Greg McMichael used to be her chief prosecutor and that her office quickly pulled out of the investigation.

But as she heads into a reelection campaign, Johnson now faces many questions and both federal and state investigations.

In a recent interview with radio station WIFO-FM, Johnson blamed the Glynn County police for not calling in the GBI sooner and the media for the firestorm around her.

“I don't fear the truth; I fear lies,” Johnson said. “We are under a cloud now because of the national media that's based on a lie.”

Bryan, along with the McMichaels, remain in jail waiting for a court date to be set for a bond hearing.

Ahmaud Arbery murder raises long-standing issues with Glynn County DA?s handling of cases