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GBI: 'Sufficient Probable Cause' Led To Arrest Of 2 Men In Arbery Killing
The head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a Friday briefing that after two days of investigating the two-month-old shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery there was “sufficient probable cause” to arrest two men on charges of aggravated assault and felony murder.
And GBI Director Vic Reynolds didn't rule out more arrests in the future.
“We base our decisions on two things: one are facts and the other is the law,” Reynolds said. “Whatever the facts are, we apply the law to it.”
In this case, Reynolds said the facts of Arbery’s death meant Travis and Gregory McMichael were arrested Thursday evening, the latest rapid development in a case that has ignited a firestorm of national attention and outrage.
Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed while he was out jogging after a confrontation with the father and son in Glynn County late February.
The original district attorney, Brunswick’s Jackie Johnson, recused herself from the case shortly after the shooting because Gregory McMichael was a former investigator for that office.
The second district attorney, George Barnhill, recused himself at the request of Arbery’s mother last month because Barnhill’s son worked in the Brunswick district attorney’s office.
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Tom Durden, the third district attorney assigned to the case last month, called the GBI in to assist in the investigation late Tuesday evening after video of the shooting went viral on social media.
Wednesday morning, the agency received the case file. Thursday, agents interviewed people and by that afternoon agents felt there was enough evidence to seek arrest warrants for the McMichaels.
Reynolds did not criticize the previous work that local law enforcement did on the case, but said it is always easier the earlier his agency gets brought in, since the GBI cannot get involved in a case until they are asked.
“It was a thorough investigation; that doesn't mean there were some things that we believe need to be done that hadn't been done,” he said. "You could get 10 agencies to work your case, they may work it 10 different ways and still arrive at the same place.”
Reynolds also said that the ongoing investigation also includes the person who shot the cell phone video of the shooting, and did not rule out other arrests in the future.
“We’re gonna go wherever the evidence takes us,” he said. “Let’s say, theoretically, if we believe tomorrow or in a week or three weeks there’s probable cause for an arrest, we’ll do that. If we don’t believe there is, then we won’t.”
For Gregory and Travis McMichael, however, Reynolds said the evidence was more clear that the murder and assault charges should be filed.
“I can tell you that if we didn't believe it, we wouldn't have arrested them,” he said. “If we believe it, then we're going to put the bracelets on them. And that's exactly what we did yesterday evening.”