Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Ahmaud Arbery's mother files civil lawsuit against men charged in son's death

Wanda-Cooper Jones stands outside while wearing sunglasses

Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, listens as attorneys speak outside the Glynn County Courthouse in July 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man shot and killed one year ago in Georgia, filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday accusing the men indicted in her son's death — and the involved police officers — of conspiring to kill Arbery and violating his civil rights.

The big picture: Arbery's death is one of the many that drove nationwide Black Lives Matter protests last summer, alongside demonstrations over George Floyd's killing. Feb. 23 is the anniversary of Arbery's death.

Zoom in: Three white men, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, were charged on nine counts following Arbery's death.

  • The McMichaels armed themselves and pursued Arbery, who was out for his daily jog, after telling police officers they suspected he had committed a burglary, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
  • They were indicted on charges including malice murder, aggravated assault, and felony murder.

Driving the news: Wanda Cooper-Jones is seeking $1 million in damages, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

  • Her suit alleges that Officer Robert Rash "deputized" defendant Gregory McMichael "to engage in law enforcement activity" via text, prior to his decision to pursue Arbery in a truck while carrying weapons. The text was previously reported by the New York Times.
  • The first police officer that arrived on the scene after Arbery was shot "did not check for a pulse or provide assistance," the Washington Post reported last year, citing body camera footage submitted in court.
  • "Attorneys for the men charged with killing Arbery say they suspected he was a burglar and committed no crimes," AP reports.

What she's saying: Cooper-Jones told the TODAY show on Tuesday that footage of her son's death "replays in my mind each and every day."

Read the lawsuit here.

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