Tom Brady joined dozens of athletes on Friday in calling for a US federal investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black jogger whose killing was captured on a video that triggered outrage.
A letter by the NFL Players Coalition, established in 2017 to campaign for social and racial justice, was sent to Attorney General William Barr demanding action over the slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in February.
Arbery was killed as he ran in broad daylight through a residential neighbourhood in the town of Brunswick, Georgia.
The white father and son who chased Arbery and shot him, Gregory and Travis McMichael, were arrested and charged with murder on Thursday after the emergence of cell phone footage which showed the killing.
In its letter to Barr on Friday, the Players Coalition said a federal investigation was necessary to restore confidence in the justice system.
Local authorities had been criticised for their failure to arrest or charge the McMichaels prior to the release of the damning video footage.
“The local investigation into this case is marred by conflicts, inaction … and the current prosecutor’s total failure to act until social media forced his hand,” Players Coalition co-founder Anquan Boldin wrote in the letter to Barr.
“The local police force can never be independent, as the elder-McMichael used to work there . . . If people are to have faith in the justice system, the Department of Justice must act with the FBI leading the investigation.”
Superstar quarterback Brady was among dozens of current and former NFL players who co-signed the letter along with several figures from the NBA, including Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
The Players Coalition letter comes after a furious outcry across the US led by political figures, celebrities and athletes.
“We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!” basketball great LeBron James said on Instagram. “Can’t even go for a damn jogman! Like WTF are you kidding me?!?!”
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden also called for justice.
“The video is clear – Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now.”