In 2020, Amaud Arbery was jogging down a suburban road in Georgia when Greg and Travis McMichael cut him off with their vehicle. The McMichaels were part of a community watch program monitoring properties due to stolen tools at a home construction site. The McMicahels believed Arbery was guilty and attempted to stop Amaud and perform a citizen’s arrest. Arbery attempted to grab the shotgun being pointed at him when Travis shot him.
The McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed the encounter, were all found guilty in 2021 on a slew of charges including malice murder. Malice murder is when a person “unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.”
The defense argued that malice murder should not apply since the McMichaels believed they were performing a citizen’s arrest and had no intention to kill Arbery. Arbery lunging for their gun caused them to fear for their lives and fire in self-defense. The prosecutors argued that the McMichaels had no authority to perform a citizen’s arrest and that by cornering Arbery they cannot claim that him lunging for their gun justifies self-defense. More controversially, Roddie Bryan failed to sever his case from the McMichaels, ultimately finding him guilty of murder by simply filming the proceedings. Bryan’s lawyer argued he could not have an intent to murder for filming the encounter.
On January 7, 2022, the trio was sentenced to life in prison. The McMichaels were denied parole while Roddie Bryan was allowed parole after 30 years. Despite the guilty verdict, the McMichaels and Bryan still face federal hate crime charges, with jury selection set to start on Feb. 7. Prosecutors in the U.S. District Court will argue that in addition to taking Arbery’s life, the three men violated Arbery’s civil rights.
Thankfully, the jury in the Ahmaud Arbery case delivered deserved justice to a community that so often does not get any. The country watched the horrifying video as the McMichaels brutally murdered Ahmaud in broad daylight, and Roddie Bryan filmed it. Their barbaric and inhumane actions are yet another example of systemic racism in the United States. This sentencing is a right step on the path to holding these men accountable. Now the courts must punish them for violating Ahmaud’s civil rights.
It was clear that the McMichaels did not have the proper standing to perform a citizen’s arrest. However, the inclusion of William “Roddie” Bryan in the guilty verdicts makes little sense to some on the Right who felt filming the actions and reporting it to the police should not constitute malice murder. Others on the Right were displeased with the politicization of the case by Al Sharpton. The defense even mounted a mistrial claim due to his presence. Justice may never have been served if a mistrial motion stood. Lastly, many on the Right were happy to see Amaud’s father state “All Lives Matter” when speaking to the press. It was a great symbol of unity in the face of those trying to politicize his son’s death.