THE two white men accused of killing black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia could be hit with hate crime charges – after a prosecutor initially called the fatal shooting "justifiable homicide."
Cops say Arbery, who was black, was shot and killed by father and son as he was jogging on Feb 23, but arrests were not made until last week.
The DOJ said Monday that it will determine if hate crime charges are "appropriate."
It was also revealed that a Georgia district attorney who recused himself from the case told investigators that the fatal shooting was a "justifiable homicide."
The statement was made by George Barnhill Sr the day after the shooting.
The state of Georgia will look closely into that decision and investigate how the case has been handled so far, according to officials.
A man named William Roddie Bryan is also being probed after witnessing and recording what happened to Arbery in Satilla Shores.
He said in a new interview that he is getting death threats.
He told Action News Jax on Sunday that “I am not feeling safe at all … I haven’t felt safe in at least 3-to-5 days now.."
“Like Amy (Bryan’s fiancee) has said, the threats have been real.”
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder after a video of the shooting was leaked.
Bryan is also defending allegations that he tried to "block" Arbery.
“I had nothing to do with it. I’m trying to get my life back to normal, and it’s been smeared for the last week,” Bryan told Action News Jax.
“I was told I was a witness and I’m not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats.”
When Bryan was asked why he was at the scene, his lawyer told him not to answer.
“My client was responding to what he saw, which was someone in the community he didn’t know being followed by a vehicle he recognized," Kevin Gough told the TV station.
"Without going into details about the level of crime in this community in this subdivision, I think most people in this subdivision were aware that there were issues."
Gough said Bryan has lost his job and that the threat of arrest has “effectively destroyed his life.”
Bryan is “a family man, NASCAR fan, and enjoys rock and roll. He is not now, and never has been, a ‘vigilante',” Gough said in a statement last week.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds insisted last week that the video was a "very important piece of evidence."
"We investigate everybody involved in the case, including the individual who shot the video," he said, according to CNN.
Gough said in a statement last week that "It was Mr. Bryan who videotaped the incident in question, disclosed the existence of the videotape, and invited a responding Glynn County Police Officer to sit with him in his truck where they watched the video together."
National outrage swelled after the video emerged, and the Department of Justice is now mulling hate crime charges.
"The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue to fully support and participate in the state investigation," said DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec in a statement on Monday.
"We are addressing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate.
"In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation.
"We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law."
Additionally, the Georgia attorney general has asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the handling of the case.
“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Attorney General Chris Carr said.
“The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”
Lawyers for Arbery's mother and father applauded Carr for reaching out to federal officials.
Source: Read Full Article