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video evidence

Georgia prosecutor, state investigators to explore charges in shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery

A Georgia prosecutor, Tom Durden, announced Tuesday that he will seek to impanel a grand jury to consider criminal charges in the Feb. 23 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black jogger who was shot after being confronted by two white men on a suburban street in Glynn County. On Tuesday morning, a graphic video of Arbery's final encounter was posted online, prompting Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to pledge the help of state law enforcement "to ensure justice is served." Durden accepted the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The two men who stopped Arbery, Greg McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, told police they had suspected he was responsible for a series of break-ins, armed themselves, and followed him in their truck. The video shows Arbery jogging down a residential street in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick, trying to run around the truck blocking his path, then apparently wresting over a shotgun held by Travis McMichael. Three shots were fired and Arbery tried to run away, collapsing a few feet later, never to recover.

Police have had access to the video since Feb. 23, and the GBI, before noting Durden's request for help, tweeted Tuesday that it was investigating how the video came to be released to the public on behalf of the Glynn County Police Department. Greg McMichael had worked for the Glynn County police for seven years before joining the Brunswick district attorney's office as an investigator. He recently retired.

Durden is the third prosecutor assigned to the case. Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself, and the next prosecutor, George Barnhill, told police that charges weren't warranted because the video supported Greg McMichael's claim his son had acted in accordance with the state's citizen's arrest and self-defense laws when he shot Arbery, The New York Times reports, citing documents. Barnhill then recused himself because his son had worked with Greg McMichael in the D.A.'s office.

"This is murder," S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Arbery's family, said in a statement. "The series of events captured in this video confirm what all the evidence indicated prior to its release." No grand juries will be called in Georgia until at least June 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.