The mother of slain black jogger Ahmaud Arbery filed a $10 million federal lawsuit Tuesday — the one-year anniversary of her son’s death — accusing authorities in Georgia of trying to cover up the killing.
Wanda Cooper said in papers filed in the Southern District of Georgia that prosecutors botched the case into her son’s death for months after he was chased down and shot by three white men, including a former cop.
The lawsuit names the three men — Travis McMichael, his son Travis, and William “Roddie” Bryan — as well as prosecutors and police officers and officials in Glynn County.
“For nearly three months, Glynn County police officers, the chief of police, and two prosecutors conspired to hide the circumstances surrounding Ahmaud’s death and to protect the men who murdered him,” the complaint says.
“And none of this would have been discovered but for video footage leaked to the media, which showed the horrific and brutal murder of Ahmaud,” the suit says. “Two days after the video was released to the public and drew national attention and outrage, law enforcement finally arrested” the defendants.
Arbery, 25, was jogging through the Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020, when the McMichaels jumped into a pickup truck and chased him down — claiming they believed him to be a burglary suspect.
Bryan jumped into his truck and joined the chase, at one point hitting Arbery with the vehicle to try to trap him, according to police.
When the McMichaels cut off Arbery, Travis McMichael got out of the truck with a shotgun and shot Arbery after a brief struggle.
The case sat dormant for months, with two local prosecutors — Brunswick County District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill — declining to file charges in the case.
George McMichael is a former Glynn County police officer and worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office in Brunswick County.
Bryan filmed the chase and fatal encounter on his mobile phone. When the video was leaked to the public the case drew widespread outrage.
State prosecutors then moved in and took over the case, charging all three men, who are awaiting trial on murder charges in the case.
The federal lawsuit seeks a total of $10 million in damages.
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