Ahmaud Arbery’s Family’s Lawyer: Trump’s DOJ ‘Has Been Very Active’ in Our Case

Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, poses for a photo by a mural in the likeness of Arbery painted by artist Theo Ponchaveli in Dallas, Saturday, May 9, 2020. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her son, a former high school football player, …
Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo

The Department of Justice has been “very professional,” “very active,” and “very responsive” in the case of murder charges being laid against three men in Georgia following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, said Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the deceased’s family, offering his comments on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday with host Joel Pollak.

Pollak asked, “What has your experience been in working with the DOJ on this particular case?”

Merritt replied, “The DOJ has been very, very professional, [and] very responsive. This is a case that you can easily get lost into the politics of it all, because you know the president is weighing in [and] the DNC is weighing in. It’s easy to focus on that and not the details, but the federal agents in the DOJ and the U.S. attorneys that I’ve been speaking with are all about the facts and the law, and because of that, I think they’re very motivated to get some additional charges and prosecutions in this case.”

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“I was grateful that the president spoke on the case at all,” added Merritt. “President Trump understands that when he says things, people react both locally and nationally, particularly because he’s the president of the United States. Of course, if he’s mentioning the case, it’s something that gives him trouble, [and] you would expect for the Department of Justice to give it additional attention.”

Merritt continued, “I was concerned that [Donald Trump] kind of waffled in his initial evaluation of the case, saying, ‘Well, you know, you don’t know what went on off the camera,’ and of course you don’t — that’s a conversation that we all can have — but I would have preferred for him to lead with the facts, the law, what we do know, and of course, his sympathy for the family.”

“Beyond sympathy, I prefer action, and his Department of Justice as has been very active in this case,” Merritt stated.

Merritt explained a legal test used to identify racial motivations for behavior in hate crime prosecutions. A history of racially-motivated behavior on the part of a defendant is not needed to prove racial intent, he maintained.

“Getting into the technical issue of where we get hate for most hate crimes, you’re not going to have racial epithets or someone in Klan regalia, for example, who’s committing a crime,” Merritt said. “So you have to pull out racial implications based on the behavior. This is a specific legal test that we do: You look for similarly-situated individuals in that community who did not get the outcome that Ahmaud did based on the same behavior.”

Merritt went on, “The behavior, of course, is entering the property that was under construction. … You actually had dozens of people entering that property. Some coming during the day, some coming during the night, some people there for nefarious purposes; there appeared to be a couple going in there and engaging in some salacious activities. You had kids going in there playing around.”

Merritt continued, “All of this represented a nuisance to the homeowner, but the only person that deadly force was used against — the only person who was criminalized to this degree — was Ahmaud Arbery — and the only distinguishing factor for Mr. Arbery was that he happened to be an African-American male and the other trespassers were not.”

The Department of Justice in investigating the killing of Arbery as a possible hate crime, Merritt noted.

Merritt concluded, “You do have to get into the mind of the actors [to prove a hate crime]. A hate crime is one of the few crimes where you actually do have to prove motive, and that’s a difficult thing to do with that with the absence of [Ku Klux Klan] regalia or racial slurs.”

Breitbart News Sunday broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.

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