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  • Paola Ayala

Who Was Ahmaud Arbery?

Ahmaud Arbrery was a 25-year-old young man from Georgia. He was trying out new things figuring out what he wanted to do in life. He spent time in college and loved football in high school, family and friends describe him as someone who always liked to work out and stay in shape. On February 23rd, Ahmaud was out on a run when he entered the coastal suburban neighbourhood called Satilla Shores. Around 1 p.m in Brunswick, three men, Travis McMiachel, 35. His dad, Gregory McMichael, 65, and their neighbour, William Bryan, 52, killed Ahmaud. Gregor McMichael was standing on his porch when he saw Ahmaud running by and suspected him of several break-ins that occurred in that area. To be clear here, Gregory thought Ahamaud looked like the suspect who had been committing these 'break ins.' The three men decided they wanted to make a "citizen's arrest" and 'try to protect their neighborhood.' They grabbed a .357 Magnum handgun and shotgun, got in their truck and started chasing Ahmaud, trying to cut him off. According to Gregory, they yelled at Ahmaud to stop and talk to them; at one point, they pulled upon him with their shotgun, and the 'unidentified man (Ahmaud) began to violently attack Travis.' They start fighting over the gun when at one point, Travis fires one shot and a second later another one. To clarify, Ahmaud was unarmed, on a jog, being chased and threatened by three white men who thought he was a criminal.

More than two months passed, and no arrests were made; an important fact to note here, Gregory McMiachel was a former Glynn County Police officer and worked in the District Attorney's office. Before we get into the prosecution, I want to highlight the word recused that will come up a lot. Recusing from a case means a judge or prosecutor to excuse themselves from a case; they are unqualified to do their job because of conflict of interest. A judge or prosecutor can't perform their legal duties cause they know the person. The case was investigated by the Glynn County police department and the Brunswick District Attorney's Office; in late February, the District Attorney, Jackie L Johnson, recused herself from the case after pointing out that Gregory had been an investigator in her office for years up until his retirement. The case was then passed to George E. Barnhill, a district Attorney from Waycross, who advised police officers that there wasn't enough evidence to charge the three men. He argued the men were acting under Georgia's Law to commit a citizen's arrest and were entirely in their rights to own their weapons. After Ahmauds family didn't stop applying pressure, Barnhill recused himself after stating his son had worked with Gregory McMiachel in the Brunswicks prosecutor's office. Barnhill asked Georgia's Attorney General's office for help in finding a new prosecutor. The case was passed onto District Attorney Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit. After months of no action being taken, Ahmauds' Family continued to apply pressure, and a video was leaked that shows moments from what occurred that Sunday. The video was leaked by a local criminal defence lawyer who wanted to clear up rumours going around about the incident. Mr. Durden then passed the case to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to decide whether to press charges. Finally, on May 7th, 2020, Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested at their home for aggravated assault and murder. The case is then taken on by the fourth prosecutor, Cobb County District Attorney Joyette M holmes. In late May, William Bryan, the man who recorded the incident is arrested for felony murder and criminal attempt to false imprisonment.

Finally, the autopsy shows Ahmaud was shot three times, twice in the chest and the wrist. The McMiachels were indicted on federal hate crimes for the incident. Former Prosecutor Jackie L. Johnson faces charges of violating her terms and oath as a public officer. And here we are, on November 24th, 2021, after a year and nine months, after hearing testimony, the jury finds the three men guilty for the death of Ahmaud. They are currently facing life in [prison without parole; they still do not have a scheduled sentencing date. The jury agreed with the lead prosecutor's defence that argued that you couldn't claim self-defense when you're the one who created the whole scene. Ahmauds' family started to lose hope and didn't think this day would come. It is a sign of the system doing their job, but it also says a lot about people in power 'doing their job.'

The case's timeline is essential for people not to forget, we are seeing people in power who made biased decisions contradicting a case involving a man's life. It highlights favouritism in our justice system and shows our society what people in power are capable of doing. Unfortunately, Ahmauds case is not unfamiliar; it makes me question how many cases like this are being swept under the rug, how many people have killed innocent people who will never face justice just because they are white. The story of Ahmaud Arbery's death shows us how racist our country still is, including our government officials.

Rest in power Ahmaud Arbery.


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