On February 23, a 25-year-old black man was shot dead after an encounter with two white men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34. Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in Satilla Shores, Georgia, when the McMichaels saw him run by their house. George and Travis grabbed two guns and followed him in a truck. They said they killed him because he looked like the suspect in a string of nearby break-ins. The case has garnered attention and highlighted racial inequities.

The shooting happened more than two months ago, but the case did not receive broader attention until recently, after a video of the shooting began circulating widely. Officials on Friday said that the video had been “a very important piece” of evidence in moving forward with criminal charges.

On Friday, law enforcement officials in Georgia said on Friday there was more than sufficient probable cause to justify charging two men with murder in the fatal shooting of Arbery. The charges for the McMichaels’ arrests finally came after after the case was moved to a third prosecutor and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called to investigate.

“I can’t answer what another agency did or didn’t see,” Vic Reynolds, the G.B.I. director, said at a news conference on Friday. “But I can tell you that based on our involvement in this case and considering the fact we hit the ground running Wednesday morning and within 36 hours we had secured warrants for two individuals for felony murder, I think that speaks volumes for itself.”

He said that the video was compelling evidence.

“It was extremely upsetting,” he said. “On a human level, it’s troubling.”

Reynolds suggested that the video wasn’t the end though and that facts still had to be looked at.

“I think you have to remember our role is to do our best to remove our emotions from a case and look at facts,” Reynolds told reporters after the news conference. “But certainly when you see that, you become pretty enraged in watching it. You have set that aside and you have say, looking at all the evidence, is there probable cause here?”

Officials also stressed that the McMichaels being charged only now had nothing to do with the all the attention the case was getting by elected officials, prominent activists and celebrities.

“We don’t let that influence the decision,” Tom Durden of Georgia’s Atlantic Judicial Circuit, the latest prosecutor to take on the case, said at the Friday news conference. “We have made the decision based on what we feel like is the applicable law and our interpretation of the evidence that has been uncovered.”

Before the arrests, rallies had been organized by the N.A.A.C.P. for Friday outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. It would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday. The hashtag #IRunWithMaud has also spread widely on social media, with celebrities and prominent activists pledging to run 2.23 miles on Friday, marking the date when Arbery was fatally shot.

Gerald Griggs, the chapter’s vice president, said the rally would continue as planned.

“We are going to send a message,” he said, “and the message is this: We will not allow unarmed African-Americans to be killed in this state with impunity. We will demand punishment within the fullest extent of the law.”

S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing Arbery’s family, said that Arbery’s mother, Wander Cooper, was grateful the police had made the arrests.

“She was very relieved,” Merritt said. “She remained very stoic as she has during this entire process. I believe that she is holding out for a conviction for these men.”


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