The case of a black man in Georgia who was fatally shot in February after being pursued by two armed white men is gaining widespread attention among lawmakers, particularly after a graphic video of the incident was released this week.
"Ahmaud Arbery was murdered for being Black," Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in a Thursday morning tweet. "His White assailants were allowed to roam free *for months* after lynching him. They faced no charges, no arrests. Police had video of Ahmaud’s murder the day it happened. His family deserves justice. Our country deserves answers."
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on Feb. 23 when 64-year-old Gregory McMichael spotted Arbery jogging and called 911 to report a "black man running down the street" and said he suspected the man was involved in recent burglaries. McMichael called his son, Travis. The pair armed themselves, and then tracked Arbery down on the road.
The police report says Gregory McMichael told officers he and his son first tried to stop Arbery by shouting, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you!” The father claimed that Arbery attacked his son and they got into a struggle for a shotgun. Police said the son fired two shots.
Arbery's family maintains he was simply out for a jog at the time.
"Justice must be blind. Bring #Ahmaud Arbery's killers to justice," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The video shows a black man running at a slow pace toward a white truck that is stopped in the middle of a country road. Two men are seen outside the vehicle, including one standing on the truck's bed. The black man seems to attempt to run around the truck, and the moment he clears the vehicle, a shot rings out.
A brief struggle ensues in what looks like an effort to control a shotgun, and another two shots are heard, according to the video. The runner staggers away and collapses. The man in the truck's bed is seen holding a handgun after he climbs out to approach the others.
The public developments in the case prompted Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to speak out, noting that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was assisting the prosecutor who has been placed on the case "to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death of #AhmaudArbery.
"Georgians deserve answers," Kemp said. "State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served."
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said "I am deeply concerned with the events surrounding the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery," in a brief statement that was also shared by Kemp. A grand jury will be reviewing the case.
Others who have chimed include Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who said the fact neither of the men who were involved in the shooting had been arrested is, "An all-too familiar story," Atlanta Mayor and potential Joe Biden VP candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms, who reflected on how sad Arbury's loss is and said "May justice be served;" and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, also a potential Biden running mate.
"I believe that there should be [an] immediate investigation of charges," Abrams said on MSNBC Wednesday. "It looks like murder. It looks like vigilante behavior that should be charged and criminalized. And it looks like the Arbery family has been dealt a very sore hand of injustice."
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who is a former prosecutor, said he was surprised it took the video being released to get prosecutors to ask for a grand jury review.
"I guess my first question would be, why did it take the video [becoming public]?" Gowdy asked Fox News' Dana Perino on "The Daily Briefing." "If you have someone who is jogging, who is unarmed, who is shot and killed by officers who aren't officers -- they aren't even law enforcement officers -- why did they take video?"
The video even prompted Biden himself to weigh in earlier in the week.
"The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood," he tweeted. "My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder."
Tom Durden, the prosecutor who was put on the Arbery case after the previous two resigned due to previous professional ties with the older McMichael, called for the case to be reviewed by a grand jury, though he did not make clear what charges the grand jury should consider.
But due to Georgia's orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a grand jury would not be able to convene until at least June 13, according to Fox 5 Atlanta, meaning there is a chance the McMichaels will remain free until at least then. Some have called for the police to detain the McMichaels, who have not been charged, in the meantime.
"That is disturbing and that needs to be resolved in detention until trial," lawyer John Phillips told News4Jax of Jacksonville, Fla. "That’s what it smells like is up to me is that there is just an intent not to prosecute these guys and they need to be prosecuted whether that’s by a grand jury indictment or filing charges right now under Georgia law and get in the indictment later for the higher charges they have those options available to them."
Fox News Edmund DeMarche and Charles Creitz, as well as the Associated Press contributed to this report.