Almost two years after the black jogger was fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery († 25) in the US state of Georgia the three perpetrators have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Judge Timothy Walmsley announced the sentence against the white men on Friday in the city of Brunswick.
The judge ruled out early release for two of the men: The shooter Travis McMichael (35) and his father Gregory McMichael.
The two men and their neighbor William Bryan had followed the jogging Arbery in a suburb of Brunswick with two cars on February 23, 2020, because they thought he was a burglar. They relied on a Georgia law at the time that allowed citizens to arrest suspects.
A video recorded by Bryan shows how the McMichaels, armed with a rifle and a revolver, block the path of the running Arbery with their pickup truck.
There is a scuffle between Travis McMichael and Arbery, then several shots can be heard and the black man collapses. Travis McMichael later protested in court that he acted in self-defense because Arbery attacked him.
Arbery’s death – particularly along with the death of George Floyd in a brutal police operation in Minneapolis – led to nationwide anti-racism protests in the summer of 2020.
There was outrage that the judiciary only took action against the white men when the video of the incident became public two and a half months later. Most recently, there was criticism that there was only one black jury member on the twelve-person jury.
Last November, a jury found the three men guilty of murder and other charges. Now the sentence has been announced.
While the McMichaels were sentenced to life imprisonment with no early release option, Judge Walmsley recognized extenuating circumstances in their neighbor Bryan. This means that he has a chance of early release – but only after 30 years in prison.
The three men can still appeal the verdict.