The Justice Department is considering whether to pursue hate-crime charges in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was fatally shot by two white men while jogging in a Georgia town. “The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate,” said DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday.
Arbery was fatally shot in Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested on Thursday—over two months after Arbery was killed—on charges of murder and aggravated assault after graphic video footage of the attack went viral and sparked international outrage. Questions soared about how Arbery’s case was handled after it came to light that Gregory, a former law enforcement officer, worked for Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who recused herself from the investigation due to a conflict of interest. The case was pushed to Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George E. Barnhill, who also recused himself over an alleged “insufficient probable cause.”
“We are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation,” Kupec added.