Federal grand jury charges 3 men with hate crime, attempted kidnapping in Ahmaud Arbery shooting

Glynn County Sheriff's Office

(GLYNN COUNTY, Ga.) -- A federal grand jury has charged three men with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020.

Travis McMichael, 35; Travis's father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and William Bryan, 51, have each been charged with one count of interference of rights and attempted kidnapping, while the McMichaels were each charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

All three men had previously been arrested months after the shooting. In June, a Glynn County grand jury voted to indict all three for felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal contempt to commit a felony in the death of Arbery.

They each have pleaded not guilty and have been ordered to stand trial later this year.

Arbery, 25, a Black man, was killed while jogging in the neighborhood of Satilla Shores in Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23, 2020.

Gregory McMichael, a retired investigator with the Brunswick District Attorney's Office who previously served as a Glynn County police officer, saw Arbery and assumed he was the person who committed "several break-ins" in their neighborhood, according to a police report. He and his son grabbed their guns -- a .357 magnum and shotgun, respectively -- and jumped into a white pick-up truck, authorities said.

Bryan recorded the chase on his cellphone, which captured Arbery getting ambushed by the McMichaels.

Arbery was seen in the viral video struggling with Travis McMichael before being fatally shot.

The new federal indictment alleges that the three men intimidated and threatened Arbery and interfered with his right to use a public street "because of Arbery's race and color." It also alleges that all three chased Arbery "in an attempt to restrain [him], restrict his free movement, corral and detain him against his will, and prevent his escape."

On the one-year anniversary of his death, Arbery's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, alleging that the McMichaels and Bryan were acting as surrogate police when he was killed.

Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing Arbery's family, said the indictment was "another step in the right direction."

"This is an important milestone in America's uphill march toward racial justice, and we applaud the Justice Department for treating this heinous act for what it is -- a purely evil, racially motivated hate crime," Crump said in a statement.

Robert Rubin, an attorney for Travis McMichael, said they were "deeply disappointed that the Justice Department bought the false narrative that the media and state prosecutors have promulgated."

"There is absolutely nothing in the indictment that identifies how this is a federal hate crime and it ignores without apology that Georgia law allows a citizen to detain a person who was committing burglaries until police arrive," Rubin said in a statement.

ABC News' Sabina Ghebremedhin, Bill Hutchinson and Kate Hodgson contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 7:20PM by Mark Osborne, ABC News Permalink