On February 23rd of this year, just three days shy of the eighth anniversary of a somewhat similar incident not too far away in Sanford, Florida, a young black man in Georgia grabbed for the legally-carried gun of a citizen who suspected him of being a fleeing burglar, and was immediately shot dead in the process.
This time, there’s video.
Previous official investigation of the incident, before controversy escalated and the video was made public, determined that the struggle over the gun in the attempt of a legitimate citizen’s arrest made it a case of justified self-defense. Now, however, a new prosecutor will submit the case to a grand jury, seeking charges.
In true Democrat campaign race-agitation form, presidential candidate Joe Biden has already declared it a murder, saying 25-year old Ahmoud Arbery was “killed in cold blood.”
Cell phone video which captured the incident shows part of the brief struggle over the gun when two white men got out of a pick-up truck to confront Ahmaud Arbery, after they pursued him as he ran along the road.
Mainstream headlines are mostly repeating, as if it’s an established fact, the claim by Arbery’s family & friends that Ahmaud was just innocently “out jogging,” which may or may not be true; we don’t really know at this point.
What is known to be true is that the now-deceased 25-year-old had a history of criminal convictions, including gun crime, shoplifting, several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer, and violating probation, according to The New York Times and The Brunswick News. Such details are found pretty far down the pages of the few news reports which do include them — most don’t.
So Arbery may have been the serial burglar seen repeatedly on surveillance video, identified by prosecutor George Barnhill(who has since been recused from the case due to potential conflict of interest) and by one of the two men who were trying to make a citizens arrest of him when the shooting happened, or he might have actually just been out getting some exercise.
The two men who took it upon themselves to try to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery are Greg McMichael, 64, and his 34-year old son, Travis. The senior McMichael is a recently retired District Attorney’s investigator and former police officer, who said he’d seen Arbery on video “a bunch” breaking into homes. It was Travis McMichael who held the shotgun and was rushed by Arbery, resulting in the struggle over the gun and Arbery being shot.
From The New York Times:
On the day of the shooting, and apparently moments before the chase, a neighbor in Satilla Shores called 911, telling the dispatcher that a black man in a white T-shirt was inside a house that was under construction and only partially closed in.
“And he’s running right now,” the man told the dispatcher. “There he goes right now!”
Also from The Times:
Mr. Barnhill also wrote that he did not believe there was evidence of a crime, noting that Gregory McMichael and his son had been legally carrying their weapons under Georgia law. And because Mr. Arbery was a “burglary suspect,” the pursuers, who had “solid firsthand probable cause,” were justified in chasing him under the state’s citizen’s arrest law.
In a separate document, Mr. Barnhill stated that video exists of Mr. Arbery “burglarizing a home immediately preceding the chase and confrontation.” In the letter to the police, he cites a separate video of the shooting filmed by a third pursuer.
Already there’s no end to the voices crying out that the McMichael men acted too aggressively, while others argue that the law is on their side. I’m not going to make any predictions right now, but I do not believe it’s a case of murder at all. Manslaughter, maybe….