The Department of Justice is "assessing" whether to level federal hate crime charges against the men who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery. CNN reports that the DOJ has released a statement to indicate that Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael could face more than the murder and aggravated assault charges they were arrested for on May 7.
"We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate," Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said. "We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law."
The statement comes shortly after state authorities said there would not be hate crime charges against them, as Georgia doesn't have a hate crime law.
The case was essentially sidelined for months due to the coronavirus, but when a video of the incident surfaced online, it sparked widespread outrage. The fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, who was 25, happened on Feb. 23. Prosecutors from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division will assist the state investigation of the shooting alongside the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of Georgia.
McMichael and his son weren't charged around the time of the shooting due to a "citizen's arrest" law in Georgia that permits civilians to take action if they witness a crime. The McMichaels claimed there had been a number of reported break-ins in the area before the shooting, and Arbery allegedly fit the description of the suspect. However, it has since been confirmed by Glynn County Police that no such burglaries were reported in the neighborhood in February, and the most recent break-in was reported on Jan. 1.
Ahmaud was known by friends and family for his love of running and was out for a jog when he was fatally shot.