Ahmaud Arbery was called a racial slur as he lay dying shortly after being chased and fatally shot by three white men, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified Thursday.
Gregory McMichael, 64, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, now charged with felony murder, will face trial after Glynn County Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell determined there was enough evidence to proceed.
Furthermore, their testimonies could contribute to deciding if there are enough grounds for a hate crime charge.
“[Arbery] was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed,” special prosecutor Jesse Evans said. “I don’t think it was self-defense by Mr. Michael. I think it was self-defense by Mr. Arbery.”
Arbery was out for his morning jog on Feb. 23 when the McMichaels and Bryan used two pickups to chase down 25-year-old Arbery.
Arbery attempted several direction changes and even jumped into a ditch to avoid the trucks but was ultimately confronted by Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery first in the chest, then in the hand and finally in the chest again and claimed self-defense, Richard Dial, the lead Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent on the case, testified. Bryan told investigators he heard Travis McMichael use the racial slur.
No charges against either McMichael or Bryan were brought until May 7, 74 days after Arbery’s death and two days after video evidence of the shooting surfaced.
Georgia is one of the few states that does not have a hate crime law. U.S. Department of Justice officials said May 11 that they are “assessing all the evidence to determine whether federal hate crime charges are appropriate.”