Ahmaud Arbery's mother files $1 million-plus lawsuit alleging conspiracy to protect his killers

On the one year anniversary of his death, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery has filed a lawsuit, alleging there was a conspiracy to protect those responsible for her son's death.


Above video: Timeline of events in the Ahmaud Arbery case

On the one year anniversary of his death, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery has filed a lawsuit, alleging there was a conspiracy to protect those responsible for her son's death.

Wanda Cooper filed the civil lawsuit Tuesday in the Southern District of Georgia against the three men charged with murder — Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan — as well as more than a dozen law enforcement officers, Glynn County, former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill.

Cooper is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Below video: Bodycam footage released in Ahmaud Arbery case

The lawsuit alleges that, following repeated trespasses by various people at a construction site, Glynn County law enforcement authorized the McMichaels, Bryan and others to act as law enforcement within the community.

It also cites a 2019 memorandum from Glynn County Manager Alan Ours which stated the Glynn County Police Department had a culture of "cronyism, outdated policies, lack of appropriate training, and loss of State certification." And that there is "an ongoing culture of cover-up, failure to supervise, abuse of power, and lack of accountability."

Below file video: Father-son duo arrested in Arbery killing

The lawsuit states that the elder McMichael once worked as an investigator for Johnson's office and she personally intervened to try to keep him on the police force after he repeatedly failed to complete state-mandated officer training.

"Johnson instructed law enforcement not to arrest her former colleague, his son or Bryan," the lawsuit states.

Johnson gave the case to neighboring Ware County. But Barnhill also had a prior relationship with Gregory McMichael.

"When this connection was discovered, Barnhill, too, was forced to recuse himself, but not before issuing a letter intended to justify the murder of Ahmaud as "perfectly legal," based on a multitude of demonstrably false statements," the lawsuit reads.

Below video: Changes to Georgia's Citizens Arrest Law

Arbery's death, which didn't gain national attention until two months after it happened, sparked outrage across the nation. It became yet another example of the many perils visited on Black people engaged in ordinary activities, particularly after the disturbing video of the shooting emerged.

It also renewed efforts to dismantle systems, hold public officials accountable and repeal policies that have historically allowed vigilante violence against unarmed Black people.

Activists say while their pursuit for justice in Arbery's case continues, there has been notable progress.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently announced plans to repeal the Civil War-era citizen's arrest law; the southern Georgia prosecutor who failed to make an arrest after Arbery's death was voted out of office in November; an Atlanta area district attorney is now prosecuting the case; and Kemp signed a hate crime bill last year spurred by outrage over Arbery's death.

James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, said these actions are critical to addressing what he says is the racist violence behind Arbery's death.

"This one-year anniversary is very bittersweet because what was able to be done in the aftermath was we pushed the envelope on policy that continued to allow these acts of vigilante and racial and extrajudicial violence," Woodall said. "We were able to identify exactly what we wanted."

CNN contributed to this report.