Ahmaud Arbery Shooting: Suspects Indicted on Murder Charges

ATLANTA — The three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot dead after being chased in a South Georgia neighborhood, have been indicted on murder charges by a Georgia grand jury, the prosecutor in the case announced on Wednesday.

The men — Gregory McMichael, 64; his son Travis McMichael, 34; and their neighbor William Bryan, 50 — were arrested and charged last month with murder and other crimes in connection with Mr. Arbery’s death, which prompted nationwide protests and indignation, particularly after a graphic video of his Feb. 23 killing was released online.

On Wednesday, the office of District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes of Cobb County announced that a grand jury in Glynn County had returned an indictment with nine counts against each of the three defendants: malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

The men could face life sentences without parole.

“This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud,” Ms. Holmes said in a statement, adding, “We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues.”

Mr. Arbery, 25, was spotted in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, outside of Brunswick, Ga., while running on a Sunday afternoon. A surveillance camera showed that Mr. Arbery stopped for a few minutes inside a house under construction before resuming his jog. Gregory McMichael later told the authorities he thought Mr. Arbery was a suspect in a series of break-ins in the neighborhood.

He and Travis McMichael armed themselves, they told the police, got into a pickup truck, and tried to catch Mr. Arbery. Mr. Bryan, who is known as Roddie, also gave chase in his vehicle, a state investigator said, and used his cellphone to film the killing of Mr. Arbery.

The video shows Mr. Arbery running toward a pickup truck with Travis McMichael standing next to it. Mr. Arbery tries to run to the other side of the truck to avoid Mr. McMichael, who is armed with a shotgun. But the two struggle, and Mr. McMichael soon shoots Mr. Arbery.

In a court hearing this month, Richard Dial, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said Mr. Bryan heard Mr. McMichael use a racial slur after shooting Mr. Arbery.

According to the six-page indictment, which was returned Wednesday morning, the men are charged with trying to “unlawfully confine and detain” Mr. Arbery while chasing him, using their vehicles “offensively” and in a manner “likely to cause serious bodily injury.”

The most serious charge is malice murder, which under Georgia law is “the intentional killing of a person with malice aforethought,” said Charlie Bailey, an Atlanta-area lawyer and former assistant district attorney in Fulton County, Ga.

Mr. Bailey noted that this malice did not need to have been developed over a long period of time. “Malice can be formed in an instant,” he said.

The shooting death of Mr. Arbery has become an integral part of the broader wave of protests against racism, racial profiling and the police killings of black people that have broken out across the country in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the State Senate in Georgia, largely because of Mr. Arbery’s killing, passed a hate crimes bill that had been approved last year by the House. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said he would sign it into law pending a legal review.

Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers representing Mr. Arbery’s family, said in a statement that the indictments confirmed “what Ahmaud’s father has been saying for months — that this was a lynching.”

The three suspects remain in custody in Glynn County and have not been arraigned. Lawyers for the McMichaels could not be reached on Wednesday afternoon, but Kevin Gough, a lawyer for Mr. Bryan, reiterated that his client was innocent.

“We’re disappointed that the district attorney chose to indict Mr. Bryan,” he said. “But at the same time we’ve been demanding a speedy trial from Day 1. The presentation of this case to the grand jury brings us one step closer to our day in court.”

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