A Georgia grand jury has formally indicted three suspects in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on murder charges. The suspects that were named are no surprise, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael, his 34-year-old son Travis McMichael, and their 50-year-old neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan. Each suspect is now facing charges of malice and felony murder.
Bryan is accused of using his pickup truck in an attempt to box Arbery in while he was trying to flee from the McMichaels, and he is also the person who took the now-viral video of the incident, which may be the only reason that the case has gotten so much national attention. It could also be a deciding factor in the McMichaels being brought to justice.
The indictment accuses the three men of collectively causing Arbery’s death “by unlawfully chasing him through the public roadways of the Satilla Shores neighborhood in pickup trucks and shooting him with a shotgun.”
The indictment includes four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
However, Bryan and the McMichaels claim that they were not breaking the law and were just being good citizens. The McMichaels claim that they were attempting to investigate burglaries in the area, a claim that was disputed by local police who said that there had been no recent burglaries in the area. Bryan claims that he was only a witness in the case, and has previously said that he would be a “star witness” for the prosecution.
The McMichaels say that they suspected Arbery of stealing from the construction site that he was seen passing through. However, Arbery’s family has said that he was jogging through the neighborhood when he was approached by the McMichaels. It was also common for people in the neighborhood to pass through that construction site. Surveillance videos of the site show that multiple people had recently trespassed at the site where Ahmaud Arbery visited.
Bryan’s attorney insisted that he was not involved, and pointed to a polygraph test that he took, in which he stated that he did not have any conversation with Gregory or Travis McMichael before the shooting and had no clue that it was going to happen.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, told NBC News on Wednesday she was “very pleased” with the indictment.
“At this point. I do believe the case is moving in the right direction,” she said.
The McMichaels hunted 25-year-old Arbery for about 5 minutes after they saw him walking through a construction site. Eventually, they confronted Arbery who was likely scared and trying to get away. In the following struggle, Arbery was shot twice with a shotgun at close range.
The murder took place back in February but the McMichaels were not charged in the case until earlier this month when a video of the incident went viral and sparked global outrage.
Gregory McMichael is a former police officer, with deep ties to local judges and the district attorney, who initially allowed the case to slip through the cracks without any arrests.
WATCH: A Georgia grand jury indicted the three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Blayne Alexander continues reporting from Atlanta.
Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Wednesday, June 24, 2020