Feds Get Involved In Arbery Case, Assessing Possible Hate Crime Charges

In response to a request by Georgia’s attorney general, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday that they are participating in the state investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African-American man fatally shot after a confrontation with a white father and son, who said they believed Arbery was a robbery suspect, while Arbery’s family says he was unarmed and out jogging.

On Sunday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, Bobby Christine, to head up a “complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset.”

In a statement Monday, the Justice Department confirmed that they are participating in the case and, specifically, “assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate.”

“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation,” Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in the statement. “We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate. In addition, we are considering the request of Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation. We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law.”

Carr’s request and the Justice Department’s agreement to get involved come amid mounting pressure from civil rights groups over the racially charged tragedy, which took place on Feb. 23 and which became a national story last week after video of the fatal confrontation went viral.

The call for the “investigation of the investigation,” as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts it, follows a series of problematic developments in the case and an unusual degree of turnover in prosecutors. Along with his request Sunday that the DOJ get involved, Carr appointed a new district attorney to take over the case. That prosecutor is now the fourth to oversee the case since Arbery died a little over two months ago.

“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Carr assured the public Sunday. “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.”

As reported by NBC News, Carr asked for federal assistance after he determined local prosecutors “never informed his office that they had advised police on whether Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, should be arrested in connection to Arbery’s death.”

The two men were arrested Thursday on charges of felony aggravated assault. Investigators say a neighbor of the McMichaels’ is also being investigated for his role in filming the video that helped turn the case into a national story.

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