The three white men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in southern Georgia pleaded not guilty Friday morning before the Chatham County Superior Court in a case that sparked national outcry after cell phone video footage of the shooting appeared on the Internet.
Arbery, 25, killed on February 23 while jogging outside the coastal city of Brunswick, became a touchstone in cross-country protests against racial and social injustice in the United States. United.
A former police officer, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, are charged with murder and aggravated assault.
They were charged in May after video footage from the mobile phone of the shooting was leaked to social media and sparked nationwide protests.
Police said Travis uttered a racial insult after the alleged murder of Arbery.
Their neighbor who took the cell phone video, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr, 50, was charged with murder and attempted and illegal detention.
The three defendants chased Arbery in vans and sought to lock him up.
A grand jury charged the three men in June with malice and murder. They remain in detention without bail.
Police say Gregory McMichael saw Arbery jogging in his neighborhood outside Brunswick and thought he looked like a burglary suspect.
The elder McMichael called his son and the two armed themselves and drove after Arbery.
Bryan joined the chase in his own vehicle, police say, and took a videotape of the incident on his phone, which appears to show the McMichaels being confronted Arbery before the was shot dead with a shotgun.
Justice Timothy Walmsley accepted the pleas of not guilty and dropped the indictment at the request of counsel for the accused.
No hearing date was set immediately, but several motions were pending for later Friday morning on behalf of Bryan, including a request for bail.
“Keeping him in jail is not going to do anything,” Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough said on Thursday.