WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden is urging Americans to remember Ahmaud Arbery a year after the unarmed Black jogger was shot and killed after being pursued through a neighborhood by three White men in Georgia.
"A Black man should be able to go for a jog without fearing for his life," Biden tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "Today, we remember Ahmaud Arbery’s life and we dedicate ourselves to making this country safer for people of color."
Arbery was slain last year when Greg and Travis McMichael, a father and son, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old man running in their neighborhood. Greg McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Arbery attacked his son before being shot.
William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., who joined and followed the father and son that same day, lives in the same subdivision, just outside the port city of Brunswick. Bryan said he saw the McMichaels driving by and joined the chase, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Richard Dial testified at a probable cause hearing.
It wasn’t until May 2020 — two days after Bryan’s cellphone video leaked online and stirred a national outcry — that Greg and Travis McMichael were arrested. Bryan was also arrested, and a warrant said he tried "to confine and detain" Arbery without legal authority by "utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions" before Arbery was shot.
Bryan told investigators that Travis McMichael cursed and used a racist slur as he stood over Arbery, moments after he fatally shot him, Dial testified.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case after the video of Arbery’s killing surfaced.
Attorneys for all three men insist they committed no crimes. The McMichaels' lawyers have said they pursued Arbery suspecting he was a burglar after security cameras had previously recorded him entering a home under construction. A lawyer for Bryan has maintained that his client was merely a witness.
They say Travis McMichael shot Arbery while fearing for his life as they grappled over a shotgun. It was Bryan, the third defendant, who took the cellphone video of the shooting from the driver's seat of his pickup truck.
Prosecutors have said Arbery stole nothing and was merely out jogging when the McMichaels and Bryan chased him. They remain jailed without bond.
"Ahmaud was loved. Anybody that was around Ahmaud knew he was a young guy of love and he told you that. He didn't shy away from those three words—'I love you,'" his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told FOX 5 Atlanta. "I mean, I get lost with my words and thoughts because we lost a lot there."
According to FOX 5 Atlanta, a trial date hasn’t been set, but prosecutors and defense attorneys have filed motions that are still awaiting litigation.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is asking Georgia lawmakers to all but eliminate an 1863 state law authorizing private citizens to make arrests. The prosecutor first assigned to the Arbery case cited that law in concluding the killing was justified.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.