Black jogger shot dead by former-policeman & son; Horror video finally brings arrests, as Christian leaders condemn 'lynching'

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot dead while out jogging in Georgia on Feb 23, 2020. A former police officer and his son had been chasing him, and confronted him with shotguns.Arbery Family/File

Escalating anger over the killing of a 25-year-old black jogger in Georgia has finally resulted in the arrests of a former police officer and his son, who were caught on camera confronting and shooting Ahmaud Arbery as he was out jogging. A host of Christian pastors and leaders have condemned the killing.

Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael shot Arbery multiple times in the terrifying incident in Brunswick on 23 February 2020, however, for two-and-a-half months no arrests were made.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, had explained that they believed Arbery looked similar to a black man suspected to have committed a number of break-ins in the local area in recent weeks.

The case has only just started to make international news this past week after the family's attorney, Lee Merritt, shared a witness video of the shooting.

The McMichaels had been chasing after Arbery after spotting him running through the streets in the city of Brunswick, south Georgia during the daytime. It appears as if the two white men attempted to block the road ahead of Arbery with their Ford pick-up truck.

The graphic video then shows Travis McMichael standing in the road with a shotgun trying to block Arbery, while his father Gregory stands in the back of the pick-up also carrying a shotgun.

Arbery is seen trying to run around the pick-up and avoid the men, however, when Travis seemingly confronts him the two get into a scuffle. Muffled shouting is heard in the video and a number of gunshots are heard. Arbery is then shown trying to run away but stumbles and falls just seconds later.

Arbery was unarmed, had no stolen items on him, and was already dead by the time police arrived at the scene.

Through March and April the investigation resulted no arrests, and critics have condemned developments as a farce as numerous prosecutors ended up recusing themselves – excusing themselves from handling the case – due to conflicts of interest with the parties under investigation.

The first prosecutor, Jackie Johnson, of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, recused herself because one of the suspects, Gregory McMichael, had previously worked in her office.

George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Georgia, was then assigned the case. He wrote to the Glynn County Police Department saying the "arrests were not warranted because the men were acting within Georgia's citizen arrest and self-defense statutes."

However, after that, he then went on to recuse himself as well, indicating he also had a conflict of interest in the case.

Since the horrific video of the incident was released on Tuesday, a host of Christian leaders have stepped forward to condemn the killing.

In an op-ed, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said that "under any Christian vision of justice, there is no situation in which the mob murder of a person can be morally right, nor grounds for a person to be chased down and shot by private citizens."

Moore wrote: "Jesus said, 'Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known' (Luke 12:2). Whatever is ruled in this case, we know that the blood cries from the ground in countless matters of violence and bloodshed. And God sees and knows. That's a word of promise for those weary in seeing justice done. And it's a word of warning for those who would avert their eyes."

In another op-ed, David French, editor of The Dispatch, made comparisons with the history of American lynchings. He wrote, "Their vigilante action looks less like the heroic actions of armed citizens upholding the law and more like an old-time posse, executing a vile form of street justice on a young, unarmed black man."

He added, "It's also worth remembering that the long and evil history of American lynchings features countless examples of young black men hunted and killed by white gangs who claimed their victims had committed crimes.

"While we don't yet know the full details about the McMichaels' motives, their actions speak loudly enough. When white men grab guns and mount up to pursue and seize an unarmed black man in the street, they stand in the shoes of lynch mobs past."

Christian speaker and author, Christine Caine, simply wrote on her Twitter, "This is so wrong. It's sickening. #AhmaudArbery."