GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — On the day that marks one year since her son’s death, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the men who killed her son.
Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan were arrested for the death of Arbery months after the 25-year-old was shot and killed in a Brunswick neighborhood on Feb. 23.
Prosecutors and investigators have said that race played a key role in the case. Defense attorneys have denied any racist motives in the shooting.
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The lawsuit also names Glynn County police and Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill, the district attorneys who originally handled the case.
“For nearly three months, Glynn County police officers, the chief of police, and two prosecutors conspired to hide the circumstances surrounding Ahmaud’s death and to protect the men who murdered him,” the lawsuit alleges.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke with Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones and her attorneys on the anniversary of her son’s death.
“When I laid Ahmaud to rest, one of the last things I shared with my son was I will fight for you son. Now it has been revealed what happened. My fight turns into justice,” Cooper-Jones said.
“What we’re really looking for is an amount determined by a jury or a fact finder that would cause Glynn County to address the systemic issues that not only cause Ahmaud’s death, but leaves the community vulnerable,” attorney Lee Merritt said.
Bob Rubin, who represents Travis McMichael, told Channel 2 Action News he would review the lawsuit but the lawsuit was expected. Rubin said he expects the lawyers to seek compensation from sources other than Travis McMichael, who has no assets to his name.
THE SHOOTING INVESTIGATION
On Feb. 23, Arbery was jogging through a Brunswick neighborhood when a group of men confronted him.
The McMichaels claimed they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest before shooting the 25-year-old to death as Bryan filmed the shooting.
The video wasn’t released until months after Arbery’s death. The video spread across the Internet and sparked outrage and a series of protests in Georgia and nationwide.
For weeks, local police and prosecutors never filed charges. Then the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stepped in and charged the McMichaels and Bryan.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims the cover-up started when Glynn County police first arrived at the scene on Feb. 23.
Channel 2 Action News obtained police body camera video from the scene that show officers questioning the McMichaels and Bryan.
The McMichaels both told police they chased Arbery believing he had been breaking into a nearby construction site. Bryan admitted to following Arbery, blocking him in and recording the shooting on his cellphone.