ATLANTA (Reuters) – Hopes of finding a new witness in the case of an unarmed black jogger whose fatal shooting in Georgia triggered a national outcry were dashed Thursday afternoon.
FILE PHOTO: A man stands next to the memorial for Ahmaud Arbery, at the place where he was shot and killed in February after being chased by a white former law enforcement officer and his son, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, U.S., May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers/File Photo
The note found at the memorial of Ahmaud Arbery reading “I should have stopped them” was left by a person “expressing their condolences” and not a new witness in the case of the jogger who was shot after being chased by an ex-cop and his son, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a Twitter post.
“We received numerous tips and inquiries related to this and wanted to be sure to update the public.”
The community and the family of Arbery, 25, saw the note, which drew national media attention, as a potential sign of new evidence, said James “Major” Woodall, Georgia state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“The main thing was that we wanted this preserved and examined by law enforcement,” said Woodall. “It was potential new evidence.”
A GBI spokesperson did not respond to phone calls or emails seeking additional comment.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
The single-page, unsigned note was discovered earlier this week by a television news crew at the memorial, set up in the victim’s hometown of Brunswick, about 300 miles (480 km) southeast of Atlanta.
More two months after the Feb. 23 slaying, a white former law enforcement officer and his son, who were seen on the video chasing the 25-year-old jogger, were arrested last week and charged with aggravated assault and murder.
The shooting was reminiscent of a spate of killings of black men in recent years that involved white police officers or former officers. Outrage over the killings and the response to them by the U.S. criminal justice system led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests.
“Ahmaud – I am so sorry. I should have stopped them. I am so sorry,” the note reads in full. It was posted on the internet by multiple media outlets.
The two suspects, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were arrested and charged on May 7, after the local district attorney asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe the case.
Their arrests came just days after the release of the video, which set off the national furor led by civil rights activists and celebrities.
The video was taken by William “Roddie” Bryan, who told the police he was a bystander and uninvolved.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an inquiry on why charges were not brought sooner and whether to charge the suspects with federal hate crimes.
Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Dan Grebler, Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang