Ahmaud Arbery was struck twice in the chest by shotgun blasts, autopsy shows

Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was killed after being followed by a white father and son in their pickup truck in February, died from two shotgun blasts to the chest, an autopsy released Monday shows.

The report, from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s forensic division, says the wounds were in Arbery's upper and lower chest. He also suffered a shotgun graze to his right wrist.

The report says that Arbery died during a struggle for the gun. Police in Glynn County, where the fatal confrontation occurred on Feb. 23, have said that Travis McMichael, 34, fired the gun after he and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64, spotted Arbery in the unincorporated coastal community of Satilla Shores, south of Savannah.

Arbery’s family has said that he was unarmed and out for a jog at the time of his death. Gregory McMichael told police he had spotted a suspect from break-ins in the area running down the street before pursuing him. The McMichaels also said that when they caught up with Arbery, he attacked Travis McMichael, who fired his weapon in self-defense.

The first prosecutor on the case, Jackie Johnson, of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, recused herself because of ties with Gregory McMichael, who was an investigator in her office before he retired in May 2019.

A second prosecutor, George Barnhill, also recused himself in April after it was revealed that his son works in the district attorney's office, where Gregory McMichael was employed.

Barnhill initially declined to charge the father and son with a crime, telling police in an April letter they had “solid first hand probable cause” to chase Arbery, who Barnhill called a “burglary suspect.” Barnhill in the letter asserted that Arbery initiated the fight and tried to grab the shotgun — actions that he said allowed Travis McMichael to use deadly force to protect himself. A lawyer for Arbery’s family maintains that Arbery had not committed any crime and was unarmed when he was shot and killed.

After criticism about how local authorities had handled the case and the leak of a video that showed the killing, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that the men had been arrested on aggravated assault and murder charges.

A third man, a neighbor of the McMichaels’, is also under investigation as officials look into his role in the incident, including the making of the video. A lawyer for the neighbor says he was merely a witness to the shooting.

On Monday, after Georgia’s attorney general asked federal authorities to review the handling of the case, the U.S. Justice Department said it would. The department also said it would evaluate whether federal hate crimes should be pursued.