“My son was murdered like an animal while jogging”

While the death of George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a police officer, revolts the whole world, another terrible racist crime shocked America. It was the broadcast of an overwhelming video for the murderers that helped bring justice to Ahmaud, shot dead just because he was jogging.

The shocking images were viewed by almost 8 million people. But Wanda Cooper Jones refuses to see them. For this mother, the video is simply unbearable. For 36 seconds, we witness the last moments of his son Ahmaud Arbery, nicknamed Maud, 25, shot dead in the street in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2.23 miles (3.5 km) from his home. “My son was hunted down and killed like an animal. He did not commit any crime, explains Wanda. He was jogging daily. Watching this video will take me time, it will not be for today, nor for tomorrow. It may take me several months. “

On a beautiful sunny Sunday, the one who played American football at school puts on his sneakers and goes jogging through the peaceful, tree-lined streets of a residential neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. Ahmaud is a young athletic man. It is with a large stride that he has the misfortune to pass in front of the house of Gregory McMichael, a former police officer of 64 years, retired for a year.

As soon as he saw the young sportsman pass, his murderer grabbed a hunting rifle
According to Gregory McMichael, it is enough to be African-American and to run at high speed to arouse mistrust. The man then called for help: “A black guy runs in our street.” Without further ado, armed with a hunting rifle and a 357 Magnum, the ex-investigator and his son Travis, 34, get into their pick-up. Convinced of having identified a potential burglar, they launched a manhunt. The duo are joined by car a few minutes later by a neighbor, William Bryan, the author of the video.

At the wheel of his car, a little behind, the comparse films without ever intervening or rescuing the young jogger. When the McMichaels arrive at Maud’s level, they call out to the runner, who has slowed down. Armed with his hunting rifle, the son McMichael then descends from the pick-up to threaten him. While Ahmaud tries to disarm him with his bare hands, three shots are fired. Two fatal bullets hit him in the chest and a third in the hand. The jogger wobbles and collapses in the middle of the road.

Victims’ advocates speak of “racist hunts and lynching”

He died of his injuries 3.5 km from his home. He did not carry any weapons. The investigation is entrusted to the local police, against whom the McMichaels plead self-defense. None of the shooters are prosecuted. In Georgia, a law states that citizens have the right to arrest someone if that person is observed to be committing a crime. “Running in the street is not one. Finally, it all depends on your skin color”, accuse the defenders of the victim who evoke “a hunt and a racist lynching”.

On May 5, the terrible video was posted on the Twitter account of Shaun King, an American human rights defender. Viewed 7.6 million times, it is relayed by social networks, and the affair scandalizes public opinion. Artists, sportsmen, politicians, many voices are raised in all the United States who, with the family of the victim, demand the arrest and the immediate indictment of the two shooters. Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate, tweets in person: “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. He deserves justice and he deserves it now. It is time to conduct a quick, thorough and thorough investigation transparent about his murder. “

Faced with outcry, local police are seized of the file

The investigative position held by Gregory McMichael until his retirement last year and his professional contacts with Brunswick County Attorney George Barnhill certainly influenced the more than lenient handling of the case. But faced with the outcry, the Brunswick prosecutor relinquished the case. On May 7, Gregory and Travis McMichael were finally charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

“Friday, May 8, my son would have celebrated his 26th birthday, sighs Wanda Cooper Jones. I wish the world had the chance to know and love him. Now, I aspire that justice be finally done . ” In tribute to the young man, under the hashtag “Run With Maud”, joggers from across the country ran 2.23 miles to honor his memory.