The three Georgia men charged with murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery are now facing federal hate crime charges as well, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
The federal charges came more than a year after the 25-year-old Black man was followed by the three white men while he was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, told to stop at gunpoint, and shot.
No arrests or charges were initially filed after Arbery’s death on Feb. 23, 2020. It wasn’t until cellphone video of the shooting became public that an outside prosecutor assigned to review the case announced it would be presented to a grand jury. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation later offered to assist in the case.
In June 2020, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan Jr. were indicted on a total of nine charges each, including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment.
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced they would also be pursuing hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges against the three men.
Travis and Gregory are also facing one count each of carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime. Travis faces an additional charge of firing the weapon.
According to the federal indictment, prosecutors allege the three men targeted Arbery and threatened him “because of Arbery’s race and color.”
Arbery had been jogging on a two-lane road when Gregory and Travis, who are father and son, respectively, armed themselves and drove after him in a truck to confront him.
The two men had told police that there had been break-ins in the neighborhood and they followed Arbery when they saw him “hauling ass.” Bryan allegedly joined the pursuit and recorded the video of the deadly confrontation.
Prosecutors say the men yelled at him and used the truck to keep him from escaping.
Travis then fired the shotgun, killing Arbery.
At a court hearing in the state case against the three men, special agent Richard Dial of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified that after Travis fired the shotgun, Bryan heard him calling Arbery a “fucking nigger.”
Police had not yet arrived, Dial testified, and Arbery was still bleeding on the ground.