(GEORGIA) — The mother of late jogger Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down by three white men during a routine jog, has filed a federal lawsuit against the people accused of murdering her son. Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother claims the men were acting as surrogate police when they pursued her son in their vehicles and shot him.
Named in the suit are retired Georgia police officer Gregory McMichael, 64, his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, their 50-year-old neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan — who were implicated in the shooting, of which they partially filmed. Also named in the suit are former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell, former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill and other Glynn County police officers.
Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Cooper-Jones, says the lawsuit is an attempt to secure justice for Arbery.
Speaking with ABC News, Merritt said, “Justice for this family looks like going after the system that justified it, that allowed these men (the McMichaels and Bryan) to run free for months, that failed to prosecute properly, that offered racist explanations or why the shooting was justified. That’s George Barnhill, Jackie Johnson, the entire Glynn County PD.”
“Miss Cooper is a fighter, and she’s instructed us to take no stops on the road to justice,” continued Merritt, saying the men were “deputized” by the local police and “believed that they had authority” to take the law into their own hands.
The McMichaels were arrested May 8, 2020 — three months after shooting Arbery. Bryan was arrested May 22, 2020. All three have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated assault, and will stand trial later this year.