Feds investigating Ahmaud Arbery killing as possible hate crime: report

Feds investigating Ahmaud Arbery killing as possible hate crime: report
© YouTube/CBS News

Federal prosecutors are investigating the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man shot in a Georgia suburb while jogging, as a possible hate crime, attorneys for Arbery’s family said.

The family’s attorney also said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia’s office will investigate why no arrests were made until two months after the Feb. 23 shooting, according to CBS News.

A father and son, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, were arrested May 9. A third man, William Bryan, who recorded the killing, was arrested last week.

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Georgia is one of four states, along with Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming, with no hate crimes statute on the books. A bipartisan state bill was stalled in committee in the state Senate as of March, when the legislature was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes in states that either lack hate crime laws or laws that specifically cover the charges in question. The Justice Department previously said it would consider investigating whether hate crime charges are appropriate, as well as the recusal of the first two district attorneys assigned to the case due to the elder McMichael's history of working as an investigator for the district attorney's office.

The McMichaels have claimed they believed Arbery to be a burglar responsible for a string of break-ins in the area and that Arbery attacked Travis McMichael and attempted to grab his shotgun.

Local police have said there was no such series of crimes in the weeks leading up the killing.

The Justice Department referred The Hill to a May 11 statement in which DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the department is "assessing all the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate."