The Daily Telegraph
Killing of black jogger was murder, not self-defence
Civil rights leader hails verdict after fears that acquittal of white men could lead to violence
THREE white men have been convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger who was shot dead while going for a run through a residential area of Brunswick in Georgia.
Travis Mcmichael, 35, his father Greg Mcmichael, 65, and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, were found guilty after a jury deliberated for 11 hours. Outside court the victim’s mother Wanda Cooper-jones said: “I never thought this day would come but God is good. He will rest in peace.”
Arbery’s killing had become part of a larger national reckoning in the United States on racial injustice after a graphic video of the shooting emerged following his death. Jurors asked to have mobile phone footage of Arbery, 25, being fatally shot played back three times before reaching their verdicts.
There were concerns that an acquittal could lead to violent protests.
The Rev Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, said outside court: “Let today prove that all whites are not racist. And all blacks are not worthless ... a jury of 11 whites and one black in the Deep South stood up in the courtroom and said that black lives do matter.”
President Joe Biden said in a statement: “Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country.”
Kamala Harris, the vice president, criticised the defence for trying to “dehumanise” Mr Arbery. In a statement Ms Harris, a former prosecutor, said they “chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation, and dehumanised a young black man with racist tropes”.
Prosecutors argued in the two-week trial that the defendants chased Arbery because he was black, then provoked a confrontation with him and killed him.
Defence lawyers claimed the three white men were acting in self-defence.
The Mcmichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pick-up truck to pursue Arbery after seeing him out running near Brunswick on Feb 23 last year.
Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and it was he who recorded the mobile phone video.
The footage showed Travis Mcmichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as the victim threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
The Mcmichaels later told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar.
The defence cited a Georgia law that allows anyone to make a citizen’s arrest when they have a reasonable suspicion someone is fleeing a serious crime. That law has now been repealed.
Travis Mcmichael, the only defendant to take the witness stand, testified that he shot Arbery while protecting himself. Prosecutors said that there was no evidence Arbery had committed any crimes in the defendants’ area.