Gregory and Travis McMichael are a father and son duo who pursued and shot Ahmaud Arbery to death while he was jogging in broad daylight in Georgia on February 23. Arbery was a 25-year-old unarmed black man. Gregory, 64, and Travis, 34, are white and were not arrested after the slaying.
On Tuesday, a graphic video of Arbery’s murder started to circulate around the internet, taken by a third man on the scene and showing the McMichaels driving in a pickup truck in pursuit of Arbery. An altercation ensued between Arbery and Travis in which they struggled over a shotgun. Then Arbery was shot multiple times and eventually collapsed on the road.
You can see the video below, but you should be advised that it is graphic.
Gregory, a retired investigator and former police detective, told police he and his son thought Arbery was armed and that they pursued him because Gregory thought he looked like a suspect in a slate of recent break-ins. Gregory further claimed that Arbery began to “violently attack” Travis and that his son only shot Arbery after the pair began to struggle over a shotgun.
You can read the full February 23 police report here.
Shortly following the release of the video, a public outcry ensued and has been rising ever since. Tom Durden, a prosecutor for Georgia’s Atlantic Judicial Circuit, wrote in a statement, “After careful review of the evidence, I am of the opinion that the case should be presented to the grand jury of Glynn County for consideration of criminal charges.”
The McMichaels have since deleted all social media accounts. However, archived screenshots of their social media show them to be fervent supporters of President Donald Trump as well as ardent hunters.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gregory McMichael Is a Former Police Detective & Chief Investigator
McMichael, 64, previously worked as a police detective and chief investigator for District Attorney Stephen Kelley, according to documents from Brunswick, where the shooting took place. He retired from the profession in 2019. It’s not clear if Travis works or in what profession.
One case McMichael was involved in was the conviction and death-row execution of Robert Newland. Newland was executed in 2009 for the stabbing death of Carol Sanders Beatty, a 27-year-old neighbor, on May 30, 1986. According to the Florida Times-Union, McMichael was the one to take down Beatty’s dying words. McMichael also testified at Newland’s trial. He was a Glynn County detective at the time.
By 2009, McMichael was working as the chief investigator for then-District Attorney Stephen Kelley. Kelley is now serving as a judge for the Brunswick Circuit of the 1st Superior Court District of Georgia. McMichael worked as an investigator for another decade before retiring last year.
2. Gregory’s Ties to Law Enforcement in the Area Have Led to Complications With the Case
Gregory McMichael’s lengthy history working with law enforcement in the Brunswick area has complicated the case. Jackie Johnson, the current District Attorney for Glynn County, has recused herself from the case because McMichael worked as an investigator in her office. Similarly, The New York Times reports that Tom Durden, the prosecutor for the case, is the third prosecutor assigned to the case. The first two had to recuse themselves due to professional connections with McMichael.
3. Arbery Was Shot Multiple Times, According to Video Footage
Though the McMichaels have not commented publicly about the video or Arbery’s death, Gregory did speak with police about what he claims happened. He told police he saw Arbery running and that he believed Arbery looked like a suspect in multiple recent break-ins. He called his son, and they armed themselves with a handgun and shotgun, he told police.
Gregory told police that he and Travis followed Arbery in their truck and that Gregory told Arbery multiple times, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you,” per The Washington Post. Gregory also said no shots were fired prior to Arbery attacking Travis when Travis stepped out of the truck towards him. As many have noted, this narrative does not fully match what is depicted in the leaked video.
In the leaked video, Arbery is seen running down the middle of the road in front of the white pickup truck. The camera moves for a moment and Arbery can’t be seen, though yelling can be heard, and then Arbery and Travis can be seen struggling over a shotgun. Two shots are heard. Arbery stumbles away from Travis and then collapses to the ground.
4. The Video Was Taken by a Third Man, Whose Identity Has Not Been Revealed
According to The New York Times, the video of Arbery’s death was taken by a third man, who had joined the McMichaels in pursuit of Arbery. That man’s identity has not been revealed.
The only detail given about the third man in the February 23 police report is a reference to “Roddy,” the name for the third man. It’s not clear if this is an alias, a nickname or something in between. The police report reads, “McMichael stated that [Arbery] turned around and began running back the direction from which he came and ‘Roddy’ attempted to block him which was unsuccessful.”
5. Grand Juries Are Temporarily Suspended in Georgia Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Though anger over Arbery’s murder has been steadily growing, those looking to see justice served in either direction will have to wait until at least June 12. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Georgia Supreme Court has prohibited grand juries from meeting until that date.