Brunswick, GA — Wanda Cooper, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, filed a federal civil lawsuit Tuesday against the three men accused of murdering her son and the Glynn County officials assigned to investigate his death.
The lawsuit names all three defendants, Travis and Gregory McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan. It also names Glynn County police officer Robert Rash, chief John Powell, and prosecutors Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill.
Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020 in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. The shooting was captured on video. It showed Arbery running while Travis and Gregory McMichaels followed him in a truck.
According to a police report, the McMichaels said they were chasing Arbery because they believed he was responsible for prior break-ins in the area. The video showed a confrontation between Arbery and Travis McMichael, during which Travis fired his gun, and Arbery was killed. Gregory claimed Arbery attacked his son, Travis.
On May 7, 2020, the McMichaels were arrested. On May 21, 2020, Bryan, who admitted he recorded the incident, was arrested. All three men are charged with murder.
What happened in the time between Arbery’s death and the arrests of the suspects is the focus of Cooper’s lawsuit. It claims Glynn County police officers and prosecutors tried to hide the circumstances surrounding Arbery’s death in an effort to protect the three men accused. Gregory McMichael worked in law enforcement and for the district attorney’s office before retiring in 2019.
The lawsuit claims officer Rash “deputized” neighbors, giving them the authority to pursue the man believed to be committing thefts in their neighborhood. It calls the initial investigation of Arbery’s death “deficient.” And it accuses prosecutor Barnhill of wrongfully concluding that Arbery’s death was a justifiable homicide.
Cooper is seeking at least $1 million in damages.
You can read the lawsuit below. Warning: graphic language.
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