ATLANTA — Ahmaud Arbery’s mother and her attorney appeared on the "Tamron Hall Show" Monday to talk about the latest developments in her son’s shooting death.
Wanda Cooper-Jones told Hall that despite authorities saying the case was delayed because of the state’s shutdown over the coronavirus, she believes local authorities tried to cover up her son’s killing.
“The murder happened before the social distancing came into effect. I think what took so long was my son’s death was going to be covered up. I don’t think that the virus had a big part in it at all,” Cooper-Jones said.
It took 74 days after Arbery was killed before Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested and charged in the case. The arrest came just one day after video of Arbery’s shooting was leaked on social media and just hours after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.
Cooper-Jones believes the district attorney’s office played a big role in taking so long for an arrest to be made.
“I think they played a major part on the time that it took to get attention. I mean, they knew about the murder the day that it happened, and they failed to do anything about it,” Cooper-Jones said.
Arbery’s mother said she can’t bring herself to watch the video.
“I’ve had my siblings watch it and what has been described to me was that Ahmaud, he was jogging. He wasn’t committing a crime and Ahmaud was killed,” Cooper-Jones said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it. I don’t think that I’ll ever be mentally prepared for it.”
Lee Merritt, the attorney handling the case for Cooper-Jones, believes the man who shot that video, William "Roddie" Bryan, played a role in Arbery’s killing.
“Right now, we know that he recorded this video from a very close proximity. According to his attorney, he was home one minute and within minutes he was behind Ahmaud Arbery with his cell phone, recording his ambush,” Merritt said. “His response to this very loud, violent shotgun shots repeatedly, and someone being murdered in front of him, was silence. He just kept recording. You didn’t hear him gasp. He didn’t cut off the camera. He didn’t intervene. He didn’t honk his horn. And we believe that is because he knew what was about to happen and he played a role in it.”
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne learned last week that Gregory McMichael was actually the person who leaked that video, believing that it would exonerate him.
Hall asked Cooper-Jones to describe what her son was like.
“Ahmaud was loved. Ahmaud was kind. Ahmaud was … he was my baby. Ahmaud cared. Ahmaud was a good boy,” Cooper-Jones said.
She told Hall that she was surprised that former President Barack Obama brought up her son in his commencement address to HBCUs across the country.
“It was shocking. But eventually I knew he would chime in because he was the president that cared. And I knew he had seen the story and eventually he would speak on it. It really meant a lot,” Cooper-Jones said.
Hall asked the family’s attorney what they expect to happen next in the case.
“We want to figure out who else played a role in that assault, who else could have prevented this from happening. And so, the investigations by the DOJ into the police department, into the district attorney’s office – we’re hoping that that will bear fruit. We are hoping that the federal government moves forward with hate crime charges against the McMichaels,” Merritt said.
Cooper-Jones said she just wants justice for her son.
“They heard my cry from the very beginning. They heard my questions and they failed to answer questions. And all I want now is someone to handle the case, handle it properly. And if it’s handled properly, there will be justice for Ahmaud,” Cooper-Jones said.
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