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Georgia asks US justice dept to probe killing of black jogger

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia - Sean Rayford / ©AFP
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia - Sean Rayford / ©AFP

(AFP)

The Georgia state attorney general has asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the killing of an unarmed black jogger whose death sparked outrage across the country.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on February 23 as he ran on a sunny day in a residential neighborhood in the town of Brunswick. Two white men were arrested and charged for his shooting just last week.

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“I have formally requested US DOJ (@SDGAnews) to conduct an investigation into the handling of the case,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted Sunday, linking to an official statement.

Carr said his office is “committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset.”

“The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers,” he added.

Arbery’s death gained national notoriety last week with the release of a 28-second cell phone video that captured the shooting.

In the footage, Arbery is seen running down a residential street and approaching a white pickup truck stopped in the right lane with a man standing in the back.

As Arbery tries to get around the vehicle, he is confronted by a second man holding a shotgun. An altercation between the two ensues and the firing of three shots can be heard.

The two white men were identified by police as Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Gregory McMichael, 64, who both live in Brunswick. They were arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault.

According to the February police report, Gregory McMichael told officers he thought Arbery was a suspect in a series of area burglaries and that he had seen the young black man “hauling ass” down the street.

McMichael said he went inside his home and got his .357 Magnum while his son grabbed a shotgun. When they finally caught up with Arbery and Travis McMichael got out of the truck with the shotgun, Arbery began to “violently attack” him, the father said, according to the police report.

The father said he saw his son shoot Arbery and the jogger fall to the ground.

The footage of the killing sent shockwaves across the United States and prompted a number of celebrities to call for action, including basketball star LeBron James and actress Zoe Kravitz.

– ‘Lynching’ –

Some people drew parallels with the shooting death of another unarmed young black man, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood guard in Florida in 2012.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms described Arbery’s killing as a “lynching.”

“It’s heartbreaking that it’s 2020 and this was a lynching of an African American man,” Bottoms told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.

In an advertisement in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, rapper Jay-Z and singer Alicia Keys appealed to Georgia’s governor and attorney general to “ensure a fair trial is conducted, as that can only lead to the appropriate felony convictions of both McMichaels.”

“If you take those necessary actions, you will send a message to the people that want to drag Georgia back to a time when African Americans were killed merely for voting: hate and fear will lose,” they said. 

On Friday, Georgia Bureau of Investigation director Vic Reynolds told a news conference that “there is more than sufficient probable cause” to charge the McMichaels with murder but he did not explain why it took 74 days for the suspects to be detained.

He added that the investigation was ongoing and there could be more arrests.

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