GBI Director speaks on bureau’s decision to investigate Ahmaud Arbery’s death

ATLANTA — Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down in February 2020, but it wasn’t until months later that police filed charges in his death.

It wasn’t until the video of the incident recorded by Roddie Bryan went viral and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began their investigation.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds spoke exclusively with Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne about how the bureau took over the investigation and got what many see as justice.

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Reynolds told Winne that the verdicts in the trial for the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery highlight a major reason why the GBI exists. He says they come into high-profile, high-pressure situations where justice has not yet been served and build a case.

“On occasion, we need to be called in because, if for no other reason the citizenry, the people of that community need to understand and need to know that, hey, there are folks looking at this case that don’t have any skin in the game,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said it took their investigators less than two days to realize that arrest warrants should be issued.

“We secured them and we arrested [Greg and Travis McMichael]. It took us another two weeks in investigating a third defendant, Mr. Bryan,” Reynolds said.

He added that these arrests should have happened months before they even became involved.

“I will tell you that if we can see that within 36 to 38 hours, somebody should’ve seen that beforehand,” he explained.

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Because of the high-profile nature of the case, Reynolds said he gathered together a team of top GBI investigators from across the state.

“Experienced eyes who had worked a number of homicide cases,” he said.

Murder convictions for each of Greg and Travis McMichael and Bryan were the ultimate validation of the GBI’s work.

“I’m extremely proud of these agents,” he said. “Not only of the agents, but of the scientists who testified, the medical examiner’s staff.”

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Reynolds says as GBI Director, a former Cobb County Chief Magistrate and District Attorney and a former defense lawyer, he has waited on hundreds of verdicts, but was keenly aware the stakes were especially high for this one.

“My prayer in this case was the same as it is in literally every jury trial I’ve even been involved in. Once that jury goes back, the prayer is, you know, let justice be done,” he said.

Reynolds added that he believes this case has had a more profound effect on the criminal justice system than any other case he’s worked on.

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