Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick. Following the last election, a new prosecutor has taken over the case, Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady, Jr.
Broady and Deputy Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans sat down with CBS46’s Hayley Mason to discuss their thoughts on the case ahead of the anniversary of Arbery’s death. The men pinned blue ribbons to their suit jackets--Arbery's favorite color-- as a way to honor Arbery’s family.
“What we are trying to do is to send a message of support and unity for the communities,” Broady said.
Police say Arbery was gunned down on the streets of Brunswick by Greg and Travis McMichael on February 23, 2020. His killing was filmed on a cell phone by William Roddy Bryan, who investigators say also took part in the chase.
The DA’s share a sense of responsibility to bring justice to Arbery’s parents.
“Our hearts go out to them,” Evans said. “Not only with the loss of their son, but maybe the inability to move at the speed that we would all like to move when it’s safe to do so. That’s part of the reason we decided to wear these blue ribbons to show that we are thinking about them and support them and we know this is a difficult time for them."
Evans has helped uncover some of the most compelling and racially divisive elements of the case that have launched difficult conversations on the role race played in the incident.
“I think it’s really important for us to have a healthy dialogue about social issues and about race issues as well, but this case is not going to rise and fall on if there is a racial component to it or not. I think this case is really about straight up murder and questions about use of force,” Evans said.
He sees the evidence as clear and convincing, with or without the video, and even beyond the influence of race.
For Broady, the symbolic nature of a Black male prosecutor seeking justice in the case that has sparked a racial justice movement is not lost. He admits, he is beginning to realize many people are expecting more of him as he fights for justice in the case.
“This past week has told me they do [expect more],” Broady said. “But, the thing they have to realize is what they want from me most of all is to follow the truth, to follow the facts, to do things right, and by doing that the credibility that I will bring to anything will be much better."
Travis McMichael’s attorney Jason Sheffield didn’t want to discuss the case so close to the anniversary but said on the phone, “The sadness and tragedy surrounding Mr. Arbery’s death will never be forgotten and we join the community, including Travis, in giving our condolences and prayers to Mr. Arbery’s family for their loss.”
Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough spoke with Mason after filing his third request for bond for his client. He too sent condolences before arguing for justice for Bryan.
“Under our constitution Roddy Bryan is presumed innocent and he is long overdue for another bond hearing. Motions have been filed today, including a 3rd motion for bond. We also have a motion to dismiss based on the denial of Mr. Bryan’s speedy trial rights,” he continued.
In recent weeks talks of repealing Georgia's citizens arrest statue have brought new attention to the case. Prosecutors say it would not apply here whether it's on the books or not.
As a case, delayed from the start by politics, and later again by the pandemic, the prosecutors say the most important thing now is to get it right.
“This is an opportunity for this case throughout Georgia and throughout the nation to bring some unity to us to get rid of the intolerance, the hate, the division,” Broady stated. “By doing this case right, I think we are going to bring some unity to the State of Georgia, and I think people are going to going to say it’s time for a change,” he added.
The prosecutors said they don't see the case going to trial before 2022. Right, now they are still trying to navigate virtual hearings.
Tuesday, Arbery’s mother will hold a vigil honoring Ahmaud Arbery in Waynesboro.