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Georgia requests US justice department probe into killing of black jogger

Demonstrators at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, on May 8, 2020, protest the killing in February of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young black man shot after being chased by a white former police officer and his son.
Demonstrators at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, on May 8, 2020, protest the killing in February of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young black man shot after being chased by a white former police officer and his son. © Dustin Chambers, Reuters

The Georgia state attorney general on Sunday asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the handling of an unarmed black jogger's killing, which sparked outrage across the country.

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Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on February 23 as he ran on a sunny day in a residential neighbourhood in the town of Brunswick. Two white men were arrested for his shooting just last week.

"I have formally requested US DOJ (@SDGAnews) to conduct an investigation into the handling of the case," Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted, linking to an official statement.

In the statement, Carr said his office is "committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset."

"The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers," Carr said in the statement.

According to the statement, the request "includes, but is not limited to, investigation of the communications and discussions by and between" the district attorneys' offices for the Brunswick judicial circuit and the Waycross judicial circuit – both were involved in the original case.

Arbery's case gained national notoriety last week with the release of a 28-second cell phone video that captured the shooting.

In the footage, Arbery is seen running down a residential street and approaching a white pickup truck stopped in the right lane with a man standing in the back.

As Arbery is seen trying to get around the vehicle, he is confronted by a second man holding a shotgun. An altercation between the two ensues and the firing of three shots can be heard.

The two white men were identified by police as Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Gregory McMichael, 64, who both live in Brunswick. They were arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault.

According to the February police report, Gregory McMichael told officers he thought Arbery was a suspect in a series of area burglaries and that he had seen the young black man "hauling ass" down the street.

McMichael said he went inside and got his .357 Magnum while his son grabbed a shotgun. When they finally caught up with Arbery and Travis McMichael got out of the truck with the shotgun, Arbery began to "violently attack" him, the father said, according to the police report.

The father said he saw his son shoot Arbery and Arbery fall to the ground.

The footage of the shooting sent shockwaves across the United States and prompted a number of celebrities to call for action, including basketball star LeBron James and actress Zoe Kravitz.

Some people drew parallels between this case and the shooting death of another unarmed young black man, Trayvon Martin, by a neighbourhood guard in Florida in 2012.

On Friday, GBI director Vic Reynolds told a news conference that "there is more than sufficient probable cause" to charge the McMichaels with murder but did not explain why it took 74 days for the suspects to be detained.

He added that the investigation was ongoing and there could be more arrests.

(AFP)

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