The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black male who was shot and killed by two white men while jogging in February, is in favor of an “eye-for-an-eye” type of justice. In an interview with TMZ, Wanda Cooper-Jones told reporters she would “totally agree” if prosecutors decided to seek the death penalty.
“I would like for all hands that were involved, that played a part in my son’s murder, to be prosecuted to the highest,” Cooper-Jones said. “Coming from my point of view, my son died, they should die as well.”
The case triggered widespread outrage when video footage of Arbery’s death went viral. At the time of the incident, local authorities did not see probable cause to arrest the McMichaels, who claimed Arbery fit the description of a burglary suspect responsible for recent break-ins in the area. The two chased after Arbery and claimed self-defense when Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery. Reports later confirmed there was only one report of a car break-in that occurred in January.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The case gained national media attention, and many protested the need for justice. It took ten weeks before the McMichaels were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and murder.
According to Complex, Cooper-Jones previously told TMZ she wanted Gregory and Travis McMichael to be charged with murder and to serve life sentences along with William “Roddie” Bryan, the man who filmed the deadly incident.
However, Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, told CNN, his client has no relationship with the McMichaels and is cooperating with authorities. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into Bryan’s involvement and has said they will arrest if facts lead them to do so. Bryan was working in his front yard when he saw the McMichael’s chasing Arbery, which promoted him to follow behind in his car and record the incident.
“Mr. Bryan videotaped what was going on and because he did that there is a prosecution,” Gough said. “If he had not videotaped that incident, the only person who really could speak to what happened is dead, and we’ll never have that opportunity. That video is the prosecution.”
A fourth District Attorney is now prosecuting the case. The first two prosecutors, Jackie Johnson and George E. Barnhill, recused themselves from the case due to their professional relationship with Gregory McMichael, who worked as an investigator in the Glynn County District Attorney’s office for 30 years. District Attorney Tom Durden, was assigned to the case on April 13 and planned to present it to the grand jury before requesting the GBI to step in.
In a statement, the state attorney general thanked the Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden, who had led the case since mid-April, but added the “case has grown in size and magnitude since he accepted.” Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr said that “another office is better suited from a resource perspective to now handle the case,” reports the NPR.⠀
Carr then appointed Cobb County’s first black female District Attorney Joyette Holmes as the fourth prosecutor to the case.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In a statement on the Cobb County District Attorney’s Facebook Page, Holmes said, “Our office will immediately gather all materials related to the investigation thus far and continue to seek additional information to move this case forward.”⠀⠀
Cooper-Jones told TMZ that Holmes has reached out to her but was advised by her attorney Merritt not to disclose their conversation. However, she does feel confident that her son will get the justice he deserves.
As of Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed it was considering whether to charge Gregory McMichael, 64, a retired police detective, and his son Travis, 34, with federal hate crimes