Ahmaud Arbery's mother files civil rights lawsuit on anniversary of his death

A portrait of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young Black man shot and killed after being chased by a white former law enforcement officer and his son, is pictured during a candle light vigil to mark the one year anniversary of his death, at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Georgia, US February 23, 2021.
A portrait of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young Black man shot and killed after being chased by a white former law enforcement officer and his son, is pictured during a candle light vigil to mark the one year anniversary of his death, at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Georgia, US February 23, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Dustin Chambers

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Tuesday against the three men accused of killing her son, a Black man who was chased down and shot dead as he jogged through his Georgia neighbourhood.

The $1 million suit, filed by Wanda Cooper on the anniversary of her son's death, also names police and other officials who did not initially bring charges in the case. It alleges the killing was racially motivated, stating that the defendants “were motivated to deprive Ahmaud Arbery of equal protection of the law and his rights by bias, animus, (and) discrimination.”

Filed in the US Southern District of Georgia, the suit claims the Glynn County Police Department and prosecutors were part of a “deliberate effort to cover up Ahmaud's murder,” as one of the accused killers was both a former police officer and investigator for the local district attorney's office.

Neither Cooper nor her attorney Lee Merritt were immediately available for say to Reuters. The Glynn County Attorney's office and the Glynn County District Attorney's office, which oversees the prosecutors, did not immediately respond to a request for say.

A video of the February 23, 2020 death of Arbery, 25, in the coastal city of Brunswick sparked outrage across the country, with civil rights activists saying it marked yet another example of a targeted attack on Black man.

A former Glynn County police officer, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were charged with murder and aggravated assault, but only after state authorities stepped in about two months after the shooting.

A third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the McMichaels in chasing down Arbery, police say, and shot a video of the incident on his phone. The clip appears to show the McMichaels confronting Arbery before the jogger was shot with a shotgun.

Attorneys for the McMichaels were not immediately available, but Kevin Gough, an attorney for Bryan said that his client will be vindicated.

“The civil suit, like the criminal case, will show that Mr. Bryan acted within the law,” Gough said.

A candlelight vigil was planned for Tuesday night in the Waynesboro, Georgia church where Arbery is buried. Attendees are asked to bring their own candles and wear a blue ribbon in his honour.

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