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Ex-Georgia Police Officer And His Son Arrested In The Death Of Black Jogger


Today, a Georgia man named Ahmaud Arbery would have turned 26 years old. In February, he was shot and killed while he was jogging. Now a father and son have been arrested in his death. They've been charged with murder and aggravated assault. At first, this case didn't get much attention. And then this week, someone leaked a graphic video of what happened, and protests started. Emily Jones of Georgia Public Broadcasting has been following this story all through the way. Good morning, Emily.

EMILY JONES, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: Why did it take two months, 2 1/2 months, to arrest these two men?

JONES: Well, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation didn't become the lead agency on the case until this week and then acted within days of taking over, making these arrests. But the larger question is why local authorities did not act sooner. The facts in the case are somewhat clear. Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in a mostly white neighborhood, and two men - the two men who were arrested, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael - got into their truck with guns to confront Arbery. They told police they thought he looked like a burglary suspect. And the video released this week shows the confrontation. As for why this may have taken so long, Gregory McMichael has worked in law enforcement in the area for more than 20 years, including time working as an investigator in the district attorney's office in Brunswick. So this case actually passed through two district attorneys, both of whom had to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest with McMichael. Then a third DA took over, and this past Tuesday, that DA asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. And then two days later, that's when the arrests happened.

KING: And this all happened late last night. What has Ahmaud Arbery's family said?

JONES: I spoke to his aunt not long after the arrests were announced. Her name is Thea Brooks, and she was happy, relieved, excited that there was finally an arrest in Ahmaud's shooting death.

THEA BROOKS: I started running for Maud down the street literally (laughter). Literally, I started running. Yes, ma'am.

JONES: And, Noel, let's remember, this shooting happened back on February 23. That's more than 10 weeks ago. The family has just been shell shocked by what happened and all of this frustration and anger about the lack of legal action. They finally got what they've been calling for, which is some sort of accountability to get their day in court. The family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, issued a statement last night. He says the arrests are the first step to justice but, quote, "it's a travesty" that it took so long.

KING: And, Emily, I know that there was a protest planned for today. Is that still happening? Or have these arrests kind of calmed things down a little bit?

JONES: I'm told there will still be a rally today, but it's also going to be a bit of a celebration, both of these arrests and of the fact that it would have been Ahmaud Arbery's birthday. You know, people have been very angry, but there's now this sense of relief and happiness. But the thing is that across the U.S., there have been several high-profile killings like this one. And in many of those cases, there's not justice to the full satisfaction of those who are involved. And so what these arrests in Brunswick mean is an important step in this case for this community. But for protesters, civil rights activists and the family, it's still not enough. There are already calls actually for the district attorney to resign.

KING: Emily Jones is the Savannah bureau chief at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Emily, thanks so much for this.

JONES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Emily Jones