The family of Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot in February 2020 after being chased by three white men in a Georgia neighborhood, mourned the death of their son and brother as they addressed the court at a sentencing hearing for the three men on Friday.
“Today I laid you to rest. I told you, I love you. And someday, somehow I would get you justice,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said as she gave her victim impact statement, speaking to her son. “Son, I love you as much today as I did [the] day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I'm very proud of you.”
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said that “my heart is broken and always will be broken” and spoke about how he would never be able to sit next to his son again, noting that both Travis and Gregory McMichael — convicted in connection with the Ahmaud Arbery shooting — were sitting next to each other in court that day.
"You know something that I just — doesn’t sit right with me at this time? The man who killed my son has sat in this courtroom every single day next to his father. I'll never get that chance to sit next to my son ever again — not at a dinner table, not at a holiday and not at a wedding,” his father said.
Jasmine Arbery, the sister of Ahmaud Arbery, spoke fondly of her brother, who she said had “dark skin that glistened in the sunlight like gold,” was “tall with an athletic build” and enjoyed running.
“To me, those qualities reflected a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I love,” Jasmine Arbery said.
“He was robbed of his life pleasures, big and small. He would never be able to fulfill his professional dreams. Nor he be able to start a family or even be a part of my daughter's life. The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family,” she said as she gave her victim impact statement.
Ahmaud Arbery’s family pushed for the maximum sentence to be imposed on the three men involved in the shooting.
“These men have chose to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency. This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose to target my son because they didn't want him in their community,” Cooper-Jones said. “They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community and when they couldn't sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him.”
Three men — Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan — will receive sentences later today after a jury convicted them in November on charges in connection to the fatal shooting of Arbery.
Prosecutors are seeking to have the men given sentences of life in prison without possibility for parole.
Arbery was fatally shot by Travis McMichael after McMichael and two other men chased the 25-year-old, who was seen at the site of a home that was under construction. The lawyers of both McMichaels said that the two defendants believed Arbery had been leaving the scene of a crime and started to follow him.
Arbery was shot three times while trying to grab Travis McMichael's gun as trucks closed in on the 25-year-old.
The defendant’s attorney said that Travis McMichael had feared for his life and had shot Arbery as an act of self-defense, though prosecution said that Arbery was targeted “because he was a Black man running down their street.”