Death of Ahmaud Arbery: Timeline of events from shooting to investigation to trial

A deadly shooting in a coastal Georgia city — unscrutinized at first by law enforcement and the criminal justice system — is now a symbol of racial injustice in America more than one year later.

The fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, sparked protests across the United States during a summer in which much of the world had been confined during the COVID-19 pandemic

Arbery’s named joined a somber list chanted by crowds of protesters: victims of killings many see as charged by racism.

Here is a timeline of the investigation, response and trial over the death of Ahmaud Arbery: 

Ahmaud Arbery killed while jogging in a Glynn County neighborhood

Feb. 23, 2020

A police report from the Glynn County Police Department says a man and his son, frustrated by a string of burglaries and break-ins in their neighborhood, decided to take matters in their own hands. 

The men saw Arbery running through the Satilla Shores subdivision and considered him suspicious, a report says. They armed themselves and pursued him. Gregory McMichael, who it was later discovered has ties to the Glynn County District Attorney's Office, told police that Arbery and Travis fought over his son’s shotgun and his son fired two shots, killing Arbery. 

Information that unfolded after the incident revealed Arbery was unarmed. 

It was later discovered a man named William "Roddie" Bryan allegedly joined the chase and eventually cut off Arbery's route before he was shot and killed. 

No one was arrested or charged for months after the shooting occurred. 

Group calls for probe into Arbery’s death

April 30, 2020

More than two months after Arbery’s death, the Southern Poverty Law Center called for the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting in a public statement. 

The organization, a nonprofit civil rights group, said the incident seemed racially motivated. 

"Absolutely no one should ever be targeted because they are Black or brown, and absolutely no family should ever endure the pain of losing a loved one at the hands of someone else as a result of their bias and hate," Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement.

"At least on the surface, it appears that Ahmaud is the victim of a senseless violent act by people who are motivated by racist intent," she added.

Outside prosecutor recommends criminal charges in the shooting, GBI launches investigation

May 5, 2020

A legal case developed amid the backdrop of increased public outcry over the incident. 

Tom Durden, an outside prosecutor assigned to examine the case, said he plans to have a grand jury hear the evidence in the shooting. 

"I am of the opinion that the case should be presented to the grand jury of Glynn County for consideration of criminal charges against those involved in the death of Mr. Arbery," Durden said in a statement.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation into the shooting and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said he was "deeply concerned with the events surrounding the death of Ahmaud Arbery."

Video shot by Bryan showed the McMichaels and Arbery struggle before he’s fatally shot.

The revelation ignited outrage and calls for justice

McMichaels charged with Arbery's murder

May 7, 2020

The GBI charged and arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael

They were booked in Glynn County Jail.

The felony murder charges filed against the McMichaels mean prosecutors believed Arbery was killed during the commission of a felony, which was aggravated assault. 

McMichaels make first appearance in court

May 8, 2020

The father and son stood before a judge, who read murder and aggravated assault charges against them. 

It was a moment that many in Ahmaud Arbery's community had waited more than two months for while a series of prosecutors declined to bring charges against the men.

The court appearance coincided with the discovery of an additional video that showed someone matching Arbery’s description enter a construction site on that day. 

Cobb County prosecutor appointed to handle the case

May 11, 2020

Durden, who reportedly requested the case be taken by a prosecutor with a larger staff, was taking off the Arbery case and replaced by Cobb County District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes.

"District Attorney Holmes is a respected attorney with experience, both as a lawyer and a judge," state Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, said in a statement. "And the Cobb County District Attorney’s office has the resources, personnel and experience to lead this prosecution and ensure justice is done."

McMichaels’ attorneys say a different narrative will emerge at trial

May 2020

Attorneys for Gregory and Travis McMichael denied their clients were after vigilante justice and explained the ordeal was complex.

"We will be presenting our evidence in a court of law whether it is in Glynn County or somewhere else, the government will have an opportunity to present its evidence in a court of law, and then, and only then, then you can judge," said attorney Jason Sheffield.

Attorneys said evidence presented at trial would show the McMichaels’s don’t make them murderers. 

"We have amassed witnesses, documents, videos that tell a different story about Gregory, his son and Ahmaud Arbery," attorney Franklin Hogue said.

Protesters converge on Glynn County courthouse to demand justice

May 17, 2020

Hundreds came to the Glynn County courthouse demanding accountability for Arbery’s death and to express outrage that charges weren’t filed until months after his death.

Law enforcement arrested and charged Bryan

May 21, 2020

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation made a third arrest in connection to the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., 50, was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. 

He was booked into the Glynn County jail.

A day later, in court, Bryan's attorney accused the Georgia Bureau of Investigation of playing political politics. 

"He will not survive. He will lose his house. He will lose his car; he will lose everything unless he is released on bond. That is why we are this day filling a constitutional demand for a speedy trial," attorney Kevin Gough said.

Family lawyer says feds launched an investigation

May 25, 2020

Lee Merritt, the lawyer representing Arbery’s family said U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine met with him and Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones.

"They wanted us to know they had already been involved in the investigation," Merritt said.

Hearing determines there is enough evidence to try supsects for murder

June 4, 2020

Greg and Travis McMichael sat with masks on during a probable cause hearing, in which Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell allowed the case to proceed.

A state investigator alleged that a white man was heard saying a racial slur as he stood over Ahmaud Arbery's body, moments after killing him with three shots from a pump-action shotgun.

Gov. Brian Kemp signs hate crime bill into law

June 26, 2020

Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 426 into law, Georgia’s version of hate crimes legislation, which went into effect July 1, 2020.

Lawmakers approved the hate crimes legislation after legislators struck a deal to remove language protecting police and first responders.

The law allows for additional penalties for certain crimes when motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability. It also mandates the collection and reporting of data on hate crimes investigated by law enforcement.

The month following the suspects’ arrests was embroiled with protests for criminal justice reform across the U.S. during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leaders of major corporations wrote to Georgia legislators urging them to approve and sign into law a bill against hate crimes

Protesters greeted members of the Georgia General Assembly, who were returning for the next legislative session, seeking in part an end to police brutality and changes to Georgia’s criminal justice system.

On June, 16, State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-Brunswick, filed the "Citizen's Detainment Act," legislation to change Georgia's citizen's arrest statute used in defense of the accused killers. 

Judge denies bond for McMichaels following two-day hearing

Nov. 13, 2020

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said he was concerned that the McMichaels took the law into their own hands and endangered neighbors the night Arbery was killed. 

He denied both men bond on that basis

"These defendants Greg and Travis McMichael are a danger to person, property, and community," prosecutor Jesse Evans told the court. 

Defense attorneys say the McMichaels had reason to suspect Arbery was a burglar and Travis McMichael was defending himself when he shot Arbery in the port city of Brunswick.

Public memorializes Arbery one year after his death

Feb. 23, 2021

The anniversary of Arbery’s death was solemn. 

Arbery’s family attended a memorial procession Tuesday evening down Holmes Drive in Glynn County, the same road on which he was killed.

In Waynesboro, more family, friends, and members of the community gathered for a candlelight vigil where Arbery was buried.

At the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta, Democratic lawmakers joined civil rights activists to mark the anniversary.

Members of the Atlanta Track Club met early Tuesday morning to run 2.23 miles on what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday.

Arbery’s mother accuses Glynn County officials of coverup in lawsuit

Feb. 23, 2021

Details of a civil suit filed by attorney’s representing Arbery’s mother surfaced on the anniversary of his death. 

The lawsuit claimed police deputized Gregory McMichael to "stand in" as an officer and respond to neighborhood trespasses. The lawsuit also stated the court declined to meaningfully investigate the circumstances surrounding Arbery's murder.

The complaint named former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, former Glynn County Police Chief Jim Powell, officer Robert Rash, 10 unnamed police officers and Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill. 

The suit was seeking more than $1 million in damages.

New lead prosecutor named in Arbery case

April 26, 2021

After the deputy chief assistant district attorney for Cobb County resigned, Cobb County District Attorney Flynn D. Broady, Jr. said Senior ADA Linda Dunikoski assumed the role of the lead prosecutor for the shooting death case of Arbery.

3 suspects charged with federal hate crimes

April 28, 2021

A federal grand jury indicted the three men with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping charges. 

The McMichaels were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Travis McMichael was charged with discharging that weapon.

Judge sets date for murder trial

May 7, 2021

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley issued a notice stating that jury selection would begin Oct. 18, with the trial commencing as soon as a jury is seated.

Georgia’s Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law is repealed

May 10, 2021

The state House and Senate passed House Bill 479 by overwhelming margins. Kemp and lawmakers made the bill one of their top priorities after Arbery’s killing.

The law ended the right of people in Georgia to make an arrest if a crime is committed in the person’s presence "or within their immediate knowledge." It still provides for self-defense and allows business owners to detain suspected thieves.

Cooper-Jones told reporters, "Unfortunately I had to lose my son in this manner, but with this bill being in place, I think it will protect young men as they’re jogging down the street."

McMichaels, Bryan plead not guilty to federal crimes

May 11, 2021

The three accused men entered their pleas before a U.S. magistrate judge.

"We know justice is closer," Marcus Arbery Sr., the slain man’s father, told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Brunswick. 

He said the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute his son’s death as a hate crime had been "a big relief."

Judge hears pre-trial motions in Arbery case

May 14, 2021

Glynn County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said he will review under seal mental health records of Ahmaud Arbery

 to decide whether they can be used by defense attorneys to support their case.

This happened Thursday during the second day of hearings for pretrial motions.

Trial for federal hate crimes set

Aug. 25, 2021

U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood set jury selection in the hate crimes case for Feb. 7 at the federal courthouse in Brunswick.

Former prosecutor Jackie Johnson indicted

Sept. 2, 2021

Former prosecutor Jackie Johnson was indicted on misconduct charges, according to Attorney General Chris Carr. 

The indictment alleged she shielded the McMichaels from charges.

"Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly," said Carr. "We thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Glynn County Grand Jury for their hard work. While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice." 

Johnson turned herself in days later in Glynn County. She was released on her own recognizance and did not pay a cash bond.

Jury selection begins in trial over Ahmaud Arbery's death

Oct. 17, 2021

Jury selection in the criminal trial began in Glynn County Superior Court. 

Court officials mailed jury duty notices to 1,000 people with 600 people instructed to report on the first day.

Officials said an additional 400 will be on standby to show up Oct. 25 if there are not enough qualified jurors in the first batch.

The McMichaels’ attorneys moved to keep media outlets out of the courtroom during jury selection. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.