DOJ considering possible hate crime charges in Ahmaud Arbery case
ATLANTA - The U.S. Department of Justice is considering possible federal hate crime charges related to the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the black Georgia man investigators say was shot by a white father and son as he ran through a neighborhood.
In a statement to FOX News, a DOJ spokesperson said that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is "assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crime charges are appropriate."
"In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation," DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Monday. "We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law."
Ahmaud Arbery (Photo provided by family members)
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The statement from the DOJ comes after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr formally asked the office, led by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine, to conduct the investigation into how Arbery’s death was handled.
“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”
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Arbery, 25, was killed on Feb. 23 along Satilla Drive near Holmes Drive in Glynn County, according to a police report obtained by FOX 5 Atlanta. His family said he was out for a Sunday afternoon jog.
Gregory Johns McMichael, 64, (left) and Travis James McMichael, 34 (right). (Glynn County Sheriff's Office)
The GBI arrested Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, Thursday for the death of Arbery. In the police report, McMichael told officers there had been a string of break-ins in the neighborhood, which had been caught on surveillance cameras, and that McMichael claimed Arbery was a suspect.
The case has received national attention, with politicians, celebrities, athletes, and more demanding an investigation. The social justice arm of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment company on Sunday called on Georgia officials to take quick action in the case.
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Officials in Georgia also say they had arrested a 20-year-old man after investigating an online threat against people protesting the killing of Arbery.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Sunday said state police arrested Rashawn Smith and charged him with dissemination of information relating to terroristic acts. He was taken into custody in Midway, a town about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Brunswick.
Earlier in the day, the GBI said it had “been made aware of a Facebook post that contains a threat to future protests related to Ahmaud Arbery.”
It was not immediately clear if Smith has an attorney who could comment on the charge.
The GBI said the case remains open and under investigation. Anyone with information related to the case should contact the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.