After surveillance video surfaced publicly that appeared to show Ahmaud Arbery wandering inside a home under construction just minutes before he was shot to death, the homeowners of the property have come forward denouncing the killing and “vigilante response.”
“First and most important, the English family — the homeowners — want Ahmaud Arbery’s parents to know that they are very sorry for the loss of their son and they are praying for them,” the statement obtained by local station WSB-TV read.
Arbery, 25, was killed Feb. 23 as he was running down the street of a Georgia neighborhood. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael are facing murder charges after allegedly pursuing Arbery and fatally shooting him during an altercation.
The McMichaels have told authorities they believed the 25-year-old was robbing a home in the neighborhood and were hoping to detain him until authorities could arrive. Gregory McMichael claimed Arbery was shot after he “violently attacked” the father and son during a struggle for the gun.
Arbery was unarmed, according to his family.
Just before Arbery was killed, several videos appear to show him going into a home under construction for several minutes before leaving. One of the videos appears to show Arbery looking around inside the unfinished site. A second video, obtained by The Atlanta Journal Constitution, shows a man wearing a white shirt walk into the garage of the home under construction before walking around the back of the house.
Arbery’s family, who has said it does appear to be Arbery in the videos, has said that they don't reveal anything the family didn't already know and that he hadn't done anything wrong.
“Our office has reviewed the surveillance video which appears to show a person, believed to be Ahmaud Arbery, entering a property under construction. The individual remains on the property for under [three] minutes before continuing to jog down the road,” a statement from the family’s attorney said, according to WSB-TV. “This video is consistent with the evidence already known to us. Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. He stopped by a property under construction were he engaged in no illegal activity and only remained for a brief period.”
The property owners want to make it clear that they have no association with the McMichaels and didn't know what happened to the slain 25-year-old until it was reported to them.
“After seeing Mr. Arbery’s photo in the news reports, Larry English did not even think Mr. Arbery was the person that appears in this video,” the statement from the English family said. “Even if it had been, however, Mr. English would never have sought a vigilante response, much less one resulting in a tragic death.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said investigators had viewed the videos connected to the home under construction and another video that captured the fatal altercation before arresting the McMichaels last week.
"We are indeed reviewing additional video footage and photographs as part of the active case,” they said in a statement, according the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "It is important to note that this footage was reviewed at the beginning of the GBI investigation and before the arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael."
The video of the altercation, which was released on Twitter by attorney Gerald Griggs, shows a man, believed to be Arbery, running down the road when he approaches a white truck parked in the street and a man standing outside the vehicle. The camera briefly goes out of focus as yelling is heard. When the camera captures the scene again, Arbery is seen trying to pass the truck on the passenger side before a gunshot is heard and Abery seems to be struggling with a man, believed to be Travis McMichael, holding the shotgun before stumbling forward and falling into the road.
A coroner’s report released earlier this week found that Arbery sustained two close range gunshot wounds to the chest. Another bullet grazed his right wrist, local station WJCL reports.
“This 25-year-old died of multiple gunshot wounds sustained during a struggle for the shotgun,” the report reads.
The results showed that there were no drugs or alcohol in Arbery’s system at the time he died.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Cobb District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes will take over prosecution of the case, according to a statement from Holmes’ office.
Holmes is the fourth prosecutor to take charge of the case since Arbery’s Feb. 23 death, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The case was initially handled by Jackie Johnson, the district attorney of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. However, Johnson later requested another prosecutor after citing a conflict of interest.
George Barnhill, the district attorney of the Waycross Judicial Circuit, also requested to be removed from the case, after it was discovered that his son had worked at one time with Gregory McMichael “on a prosecution involving Mr. Arbery,” the FBI said.
Gregory McMichael previously worked as an officer in the Glynn County Police Department and had served as an investigator in the district attorney's office.
Tom Durden, District Attorney of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit had handled the case before it was handed to Holmes.
Holmes said that “call to serve will not be taken lightly.”
“Our office will immediately gather all materials related to the investigation thus far and continue to seek additional information to move this case forward,” she said in her statement. “We appreciate the confidence Attorney General Carr has in our office’s ability to bring to light the justice that this case deserves.”
Although the state of Georgia is currently under a statewide judicial emergency order through June 12, she said her office plans to work as “expeditiously as possible to move the case forward.”
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