Ahmaud Arbery Shooting: A Timeline of the Case


Ahmaud Arbery loved to run. A former high school football standout, he had been jogging near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Ga., when he was shot and killed after being pursued by two white men with guns, according to the authorities.

The men, Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64, were charged on Thursday with murder and aggravated assault — two days after a graphic video of the shooting of Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, became public, and more than two months after the killing itself.

The case has generated a wave of outrage and raised concerns about persistent racial inequities in the justice system.

Here is a timeline of the events leading up to the arrests this week.

Feb. 23

Credit…via Reuters

Mr. Arbery was killed shortly after 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, in Satilla Shores, a suburban neighborhood about 15 minutes from downtown Brunswick.

The authorities said he was shot after an encounter with Gregory and Travis McMichael, who had grabbed two guns and followed Mr. Arbery in a truck after he jogged past them.

Gregory McMichael told the police that he thought Mr. Arbery looked like a man suspected in several break-ins in the area. The Brunswick News, citing documents obtained through a public records request, reported that there had been just one burglary in the neighborhood since January: the theft of a handgun from an unlocked truck parked outside Travis McMichael’s house.

Feb. 27

The Brunswick District Attorney’s Office and the Glynn County Police Department conducted the initial investigation into the killing.

On Feb. 27, the Brunswick district attorney, Jackie L. Johnson, recused herself from the case, pointing out that Gregory McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer, had been a longtime investigator in her office until his retirement last May.

April 1

After a public records request, The Brunswick News reported details of the Glynn County Police Department’s records on the shooting. The police report was based almost entirely on the responding officer’s interview with Gregory McMichael. The records claimed that after the McMichaels pursued Mr. Arbery, Travis McMichael and Mr. Arbery “started fighting over the shotgun, at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot.”

Early April

The case was taken over by George E. Barnhill, the Waycross district attorney, who advised the police that there was insufficient cause to arrest Mr. Arbery’s pursuers. He argued that they had acted legally under Georgia’s citizen arrest and self-defense laws, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

Under pressure from Mr. Arbery’s family, Mr. Barnhill then recused himself from the case because his son had worked in the Brunswick prosecutor’s office with Gregory McMichael. Mr. Barnhill asked the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to help find another district attorney to handle the case.

April 13

On April 13, the case was transferred to a third prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit.

For two months, the shooting received little attention outside Brunswick. As the coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines and shut down communities around the country, The Times spoke with Mr. Arbery’s friends and family, who were by then concerned the case might quietly disappear in their Deep South community, because social distancing restrictions had made it difficult for them to gather and protest.

May 5

By Tuesday evening, a graphic video of the fatal encounter had begun to circulate online. It galvanized an already growing chorus of voices calling for charges to be brought in the case.

Recorded from inside a vehicle, it shows Mr. Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white pickup truck, with a man standing beside its open driver-side door. Another man is in the truck bed. Mr. Arbery runs around the vehicle and disappears briefly from view. Muffled shouting can be heard before Mr. Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.

That same day, Mr. Durden said that he wanted to send the case to a grand jury to decide whether to bring charges. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that night that it would be taking over the case at Mr. Durden’s request.

May 7

Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested at home on Thursday evening and booked into a jail in Glynn County, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Both were charged with murder and aggravated assault. It was not clear on Thursday whether the men had retained legal counsel.

Mr. Arbery would have turned 26 on Friday. The hashtag #IRunWithMaud was shared thousands of times across social media, as supporters documented 2.23-mile runs and walks, to commemorate the date of Mr. Arbery’s killing.

Richard Fausset and Michael Levenson contributed reporting.

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