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A year after Arbery slaying, family files civil rights lawsuit

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 12:28 PM EST
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. - A year after a young man with local ties was shot dead in an incident that reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, his mother has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the men accused in the death.

Ahmaud Arbery died after being shot by Travis McMichael on Feb. 23, 2020, in Brunswick.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, says time does not make the pain go away.

The lawsuit was filed by Lee Merritt, the attorney of Wanda Cooper, Arbery’s mother. It claims attempts at a cover-up and delays by prosecutors and law officers.

“Everyone involved in the targeting, murder and cover-up in the case of #AhmaudArbery must pay criminally and civilly,” Merritt tweeted.

Cooper and others will be remembering Arbery today with a candlelight vigil.

News 12 will be covering the vigil, and Arbery’s mother has agreed to speak with us later today, so check back with WRDW.com for coverage.

McMichael, along with his father Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, was arrested and charged in connection with Arbery’s death.

The McMichaels have been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. Bryan has been charged with felony murder and felony attempt to commit false imprisonment. He recorded video of the incident, although prosecutors believe he played a larger role.

The three were arrested in May 2020, almost three months after Arbery’s death, after a video of the McMichael’s chasing down and killing Arbery went viral. Since then, all three have been held in the Glynn County Jail.

The McMichaels claim they thought Arbery was a burglar; his family says he was jogging.

The case has brought calls for changes in Georgia’s citizen arrest law. Gov. Brian Kemp says the proposed changes would close several “loopholes” in the old statute that allowed for possible vigilantism.

The case was among the incidents that fielded summer protests against the slaying of Black people by police. Gregory McMichael was a former police officer.

Later today, Arbery’s family will hold a candlelight vigil in Waynesboro, where he’s buried.

It will begin at 5 p.m. at New Springfield Baptist Church off Hatcher Mill Road.

Anyone is invited. The family just askes that you wear a blue ribbon, since blue was Arbery’s favorite color.

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