Ahmaud Arbery: White man ‘used racial slur’ after shooting black jogger

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One of the men accused of murdering unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery in the US state of Georgia used a racial slur after shooting him, a court has heard.

An investigator said Travis McMichael used the epithet and an expletive as Mr Arbery lay on the ground.

Mr Arbery was jogging when he was chased down by Mr McMichael and his father in Brunswick in February.

A judge has ruled there is enough evidence to try the pair and another suspect on murder charges.

The case caused widespread outrage after footage was leaked online.

Travis and Gregory McMichael – a former police officer – are facing murder charges. Another man, William Bryan, faces charges of murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. They deny the charges.

Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell issued the decision at the end of Thursday’s hearing, after prosecutors presented testimony and evidence, meaning the case will move forward.

Protesters gathered outside the Glynn County court where the preliminary hearing was held.

Huge protests have been taking place across the US following the death of another unarmed black man, George Floyd, in police custody last month.

What did the Georgia investigator say in court?

Special Agent Richard Dial of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told the court that co-defendant William Bryan heard Travis McMichael use the slur after shooting Mr Arbery.

“Mr Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement,” Agent Dial said.

Agent Dial said Mr McMichael had used the same slur many times on social media.

Investigators had also found racially derogatory texts on Mr Bryan’s phone, he said.

He described how the McMichaels and Mr Bryan chased Mr Arbery in pick-up trucks as he jogged in their neighbourhood. He said Mr Arbery repeatedly tried to escape and Travis McMichael shot him three times.

Asked by Travis McMichael’s lawyer whether Mr McMichael could have acted in self-defence, he said it was Mr Arbery who had been defending himself.

“I believe Mr Arbery’s decision was to just try to get away and when he felt like he could not escape, he chose to fight,” he said.

Arbery family lawyer S Lee Merritt in a face mask with George Floyd written on it
Image captionArbery family lawyer S Lee Merritt attended court wearing a face mask bearing the name of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis

What happened to Ahmaud Arbery?

In the moments before the fatal confrontation, the McMichaels, who are white, armed themselves with a pistol and shotgun and pursued Mr Arbery in a pickup truck in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood.

Gregory McMichael told police he believed that Mr Arbery resembled the suspect in a series of local break-ins.

Mr Bryan’s 36-second video leaked online on 5 May, generating a nationwide outcry that was swiftly followed by murder charges. It was filmed by Mr Bryan from his vehicle while he was driving behind Mr Arbery.

The clip appears to show Mr Arbery running down a tree-lined street as the McMichaels wait ahead for him in their vehicle.

A tussle follows between the younger McMichael and Mr Arbery, who falls to the ground.

The three defendants were not charged until more than two months after Mr Arbery was killed. State police began investigating after footage of the incident circulated. No action had been taken by Glynn County police. Charges were then filed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Travis McMichael (left) and Gregory McMichael
Image captionTravis McMichael (left) and Gregory McMichael (right) are accused of murder along with a third man, William Bryan
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