Ahmaud Arbery



Ariana Warner

Picture yourself jogging in a neighborhood that’s quite different from yours. You get approached by two white men, followed by a third. They then chase you, and shoot you dead. This is the story of Ahmaud Arbery.

Ahmaud Arbery was a 25 year old black male. He was a former high school football player, and was working on finding his career choice. He resided with his mother in Brunswick, Georgia and as friends said, loved to jog and stay in shape. Arbery also battled with a mental illness which causes him to have hallucinations. 

On the Sunday afternoon of February 23rd,  just a little after 1pm, Arbery decided to go for a run. He ran in a predominantly white neighborhood called Satilla Shores, just two miles away from his home, when the unthinkable happened. As Arbery ran, a man standing in his front yard saw him go by, according to a police report. The man also claimed Arbery looked like a man who was a suspect in several break ins in the neighborhood so he then called his son, Travis McMichael, over. The man who made these claims, goes by the name Gregory McMichael. The men grabbed a 0.357 Magnum handgun, as well as a shotgun, and got in their pickup truck, also according to the police report. As they chased Arbery, they attempted to cut him off and were unable to. A third man by the name William “Roddie” Bryan witnessed the pursuit and joined the McMichael’s.

During the pursuit the McMichael’s yelled, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you,” as Gregory McMichael stated. The men then pulled aside Arbery, and Travis McMichael exited the vehicle with the shotgun. Gregory McMichael “stated the unidentified male began to violently attack Travis and the two men then started fighting over the shotgun at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot,” the report says. Arbery was not armed, and no report indicates he was. Nor was he the suspect of the break-ins that were occurring.

More than two months passed after the murder with no arrests. Anger over the murder of Aubery, and the lack of consequences on the situation grew when a video showing the shooting, surfaced the internet. The murder was overlooked until the video that was taken during the shooting, by William Bryan, the third man involved, was leaked and made public. As William was helping the father and son chase Arbery, he recorded a video of the last moments involving the confrontation the men had. This case gained national attention mostly during the time there were high-profile killings of black people, Including George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer and Breyonna Taylor who was fatally killed in her home by the police as well. The video shows Arbery jogging down the road towards a pick-up truck that was in the middle of the road. Gregory McMichael was in the bed of their truck, while Travis McMichael stood on the outside with a shotgun. A physical confrontation between Aubrey and Travis broke out, and three shots went off as the men struggled. Once the third shot came about, blood was seen on Arbery’s shirt, and he then stumbled and fell. 

Two months after the death of Arbery, justice began to slowly unfold for his family. Once the video began surfacing the internet, the McMichael’s were taken into custody, and indicted in June 2020. Once the arrest was made, there was a huge amount of weight lifted off Arbery’s sister, Jasmine Arbery’s, shoulders. “It’s been a long time. It feels like it’s been a long time. So, this day was a turning point in recovering my brother’s case and getting justice for him,” Jasmine told CNN. 

Although it took longer than it should have, justice was officially served for the Ahamud Arbery. In late November the three white men all faced the same nine criminal counts. The charges were said to be; One count of Malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. Travis soon was found to be guilty on all nine counts, while Gregory was found not guilty on one count of malice murder, and felony murder, and Bryan was found not guilty on one count of malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault. 

Throughout the trial, the lawyers of the three men constantly stated that they were trying to protect their neighborhood. Defense lawyers claimed the McMichael’s chased down Arbery in hopes to perform a citizen arrest. The defense team of Gregory McMichael also stated the men didn’t intend on hurting Aubrey, they just had plans on detaining him, yet the men were armed and Arbery was in fact not. Another defense attorney of Travis added during the trial that Travis had every right to perform a citizen’s arrest on Arbery, since he had suspicions of Aubrey being an occurring intruder in his neighborhood. McMichael came to his own defense at one point and said, “It was obvious he was attacking me, that if he would’ve got the shotgun from me, then it was a life or death situation. And I’m gonna have to stop him from doing this, so I shot.” 

The lead prosecutor in this trial, Dunikoski, portrayed the men to be, “strangers with intent to kill.” Dunikoski disagreed on the idea that the men had any cause to execute a citizen’s arrest. She stated the men had no knowledge of any crime they accused Arbery of, and never told Arbery they were attempting to make an arrest, they just chased him down. Dunikoski continued with her argument, and added, “You can’t make a citizen’s arrest because someone’s running down the street.”

As verdicts were read, the men had the same reactions. Travis McMichael let out a sigh, Gregory McMichael dropped his head, and Bryan frowned. Prosecutors have stated the men intend to seek life in prison with no parole, but the date of their sentencing has not been scheduled yet. 

“It’s been a long fight, it’s been a hard fight, but God is good,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said outside of the Glynn County Courthouse. Wanda also added that her son can now rest in peace. After a long year of trying to receive justice for this young black man, the case has finally rested.