Ahmaud Arbery's mother reflects on her son's death one year after he was killed while jogging

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Ahmaud Arbery's mother reflects on her son's death one year after he was killed while jogging
NBCUniversal
  • A year after Ahmaud Arbery was chased and gunned down, his mother says she's unable to move on.
  • "As time passes, I realize that Ahmaud is never coming back," Wanda Cooper-Jones told NBC Nightly News.
  • Arbery's death was one of several that prompted Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery reflected on the death of her son a year after he was killed while jogging through a coastal Georgia town.

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man was chased and gunned down by a 64-year-old former police officer, Gregory McMichael, and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, on February 23, 2020. The McMichael's were white.

A video of the encounter taken by William "Roddie" Bryan went viral in May. The McMichaels were arrested on May 7 on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. Bryan was also arrested on May 21 on a felony murder charge.

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The elder McMichael told police that he pursued Arbery because he resembled a man believed to be responsible for a string of local break-ins. However, there was only one break-in reported in the area from the beginning of the year to the day Arbery was shot.

In an interview with NBC News that aired Monday evening, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, said a year later, she's still unable to move on.

"I try but when I laid Ahmaud to rest last February, a part of me left also and it's hard," Cooper-Jones said.

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Jones said images from the video and bodycam footage of Arbery's death replay in her mind every day.

"It's rough. As time passes, I realize that Ahmaud is never coming back. I think before I was numb. I was in a state of just being numb. And as the days have passed, the numbness has left, and I'm really - it's very painful. Very painful," Cooper-Jones said.

Arbery's death was one of a number of deadly police encounters that sparked a series of Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

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"It was a sense of hope," Jones said as she watched the protests, adding that it made her feel like she "wasn't standing alone."

Arbery's death, in particular, prompted the state of Georgia in June to pass a hate crime law to impose additional penalties for crimes committed based on discrimination. The measure also makes it mandatory for the state to collect data on hate crimes, USA Today reported.

Prior to the measure, Georgia was only one of four states without a hate crime law. As a result, while lawyers for Arbery said the crime was racially motivated, the McMichaels couldn't face state hate crime charges.

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