Three white men arrested last month in the slaying of a Black man who was gunned down as he jogged through a suburban neighborhood in Georgia four months ago were indicted on Wednesday on murder and other charges.
Video footage showing the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, in the coastal southern Georgia town of Brunswick, emerged on social media and went viral in May, some 10 weeks after his death, stoking public outrage at the lack of arrests at that time.
Days later, two men seen confronting Arbery in the video, former police officer George McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were taken into custody and charged with murder. William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 50, the man who videotaped the Feb. 23 shooting, was subsequently arrested and also charged with murder.
On Wednesday, a grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against all three men, charging each defendant with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment, according to a copy of the indictment.
The three remain jailed without bond.
The McMichaels, who admitted pursuing Arbery in their pickup truck pursued told police they suspected Arbery in a string of neighborhood burglaries when they spotted him running down the street. They claim they chased him down to make a citizen’s arrest.
Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough, issued a statement on Wednesday insisting again that his client was merely “a witness to the tragic shooting death” and had fully cooperated with investigators from the start.
The indictment supersedes the charging documents already filed against the three men and spares prosecutors the legal hurdle of having to prove to a judge that they have sufficient evidence in the case to proceed to trial.
Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Arbery’s family, said the charges carry a possible death sentence, but prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek capital punishment.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether grounds exist to bring federal hate-crimes charges in the case.