Ahead of the start of jury selection in the murder trial for the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, his mother said she has concerns about the trial, but is hopeful “the right people” will be selected.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood in February 2020 when he was chased by three White men, shot and killed.
It wasn’t until cell phone video of the confrontation was leaked that the three men — Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan — were arrested. The video also sparked Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country.
The McMichaels and Bryan are facing charges of murder, false imprisonment and aggravated assault. They have pleaded not guilty. The McMichaels told investigators they thought Arbery was a burglary suspect, but there is no evidence of Arbery committing a crime.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King that she believes her son was targeted because of his race.
“I do think that Ahmaud was murdered because he was Black,” she said. “He was jogging through a predominantly White neighborhood and he was targeted.”
Cooper-Jones has not watched the video of the fatal shooting in its entirety but her attorney and multiple relatives have.
“Everyone that has watched the video simply says that Ahmaud was not doing anything wrong,” she said.
Asked if she believes there can be a fair and impartial jury, Cooper-Jones admitted she is concerned.
“I have my concerns, being that the jurors will be picked from this community,” she said. “There has been lots of miscommunication in the beginning on what happened on that day, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get the right people in the right place to make the right decision.”
Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday with 600 people reporting to a Glynn County courthouse. Twelve jurors will be seated with four alternates.
Cooper-Jones’ attorney Lee Merritt said the jury “should reflect the diversity of the Brunswick community near where this crime happened.”
Merritt said he wants to encourage Brunswick citizens “not to self-disqualify themselves” in the jury selection process.
“Just because you’ve heard about this case, just because you’ve developed an opinion of the case, doesn’t mean that you can’t set that opinion aside and say, ‘I can be fair.’ And that’s the legal standard,” he said.
Jury selection could take more than two weeks as 1,000 people were summoned.