Arbery was chased down and killed by three men who’d mistakenly believed he was a burglar.
The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was chased down and shot by would-be vigilantes in Georgia, has filed a lawsuit against the men accused of her son’s slaying.
According to National Public Radio, the lawsuit was filed by Wanda Cooper-Jones on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. It names as defendants father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan.
All three of the defendants are White, and are accused of carrying out a racially-biased attack on Arbery.
In her lawsuit, Cooper-Jones accuses the men of “willfully and maliciously” conspiring to “follow, threaten, detain and kill Ahmaud Arbery.”
Cooper-Jones’s complaint, notes NPR, also claims that local prosecutors worked with Glynn County law enforcement figures to cover up the details of Arbery’s murder.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s mother, told ABC News that Cooper-Jones intends to pursue every possible lead in her search for justice.
“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,” Merritt said. “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.”
ABC News recounts how Arbery, 25, had been out for a jog in Satilla Shores, Georgia, less than two miles from his own house.
Partway through his Run, Arbery was observed by a surveillance camera wandering into an under-construction home—possibly in search of water, or simply motivated by curiosity. Arbery did not possess the means, tools, or supplies to possibly take anything from the sight undetected.
However, Arbery’s brief detour was noticed by the McMichaels and Bryan, who were apparently “entrusted by local law enforcement to respond to recent trespasses.”
Mistaking Arbery for a burglar, the men took off after him.
Together, the two McMichaels and Bryan trailed Arbery in their truck, repeatedly trying to instigate a confrontation. Arbery was eventually shot multiple times after the would-be vigilantes pulled a gun.
It took months before the case garnered national attention—in large part because local authorities were quick to clear Arbery’s killers of wrongdoing.
In her suit, Cooper-Jones states the murder was facilitated, in part, by the Glynn County Sheriff’s Department to deputize the McMichaels and Bryan in hopes of catching whoever was responsible for a string of local break-ins.
“These men believed that they had authority to pursue the man on the Construction Lot because they had been deputized by the Glynn County Police Department,” the lawsuit says.
The McMichaels and Bryan are currently awaiting trial on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
All three have so far pleaded not guilty; their attorneys insist that Cooper-Jones is simply trying to go after anyone she believes may have “deep pockets.”