BRUNSWICK, Georgia (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of a Georgia courthouse on Friday to decry the killing of an unarmed black man in February and the delay in charging two white men in a shooting captured on video that was released earlier this week.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested a former police officer, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, on Thursday and charged with them with aggravated assault and murder in the Feb. 23 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, in the coastal Georgia town of Brunswick.
The video’s wide broadcast in recent days ignited outrage among activists, politicians and celebrities who saw the incident as the latest case of white perpetrators killing a black man and going unpunished.
“If we became involved when it was still an active crime scene, that’s the perfect situation,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds said in a briefing on Friday. “Sometimes it’s not a perfect world.”
He said the GBI could only initiate an investigation when asked to do so by the Glynn County district attorney.
“I just want justice for Ahmaud,” Quintina Johnson, a 47-year-old waiter who was one of about 350 protesters in front of the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick on Friday. “This is just one step we all have to take to make sure that justice is served correctly.”
The video footage, which surfaced on social media, shows Arbery jogging down a narrow two-lane road and around the McMichaels’ white pickup truck, which had stopped in the right lane with its driver’s door open.
As Arbery crosses back in front of the truck, a gunshot is fired. Arbery is then seen struggling with a man holding a long gun as a second man stands in the bed of the truck brandishing a revolver. Two more shots are heard before Arbery stumbles and falls face down onto the asphalt.
The GBI said it was Travis McMichael who fired the fatal round.
A district attorney, who was appointed to handle the case after two other prosecutors recused themselves because of their connections with the elder McMichael, said on Wednesday he would ask a county grand jury to decide whether the two men should face charges.
Gregory McMichael is a former Glynn County police officer and district attorney’s investigator.
The men’s arrest by the GBI, one day after the agency opened an investigation into the case, appears to have sidelined any grand jury probe.