WASHINGTON – Relatives of Ahmaud Arbery – the 25-year-old Black man shot to death while jogging in Georgia – met privately with President Donald Trump along with other victims' families on Tuesday before he signed an executive order on policing.
The meeting and Trump's order follows nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Lawmakers are also considering a package of law enforcement changes.
"All Americans mourn by your side. Your loved ones will not have died in vain," Trump said in the Rose Garden. "We are one nation. We grieve together. And we heal together."
Trump began his remarks by saying he had just met with several families of victims. Among those was the family of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old Dallas accountant shot in 2018 in his apartment by an off-duty Dallas Police officer.
Activist Shaun King told USA TODAY earlier Tuesday that Arbery's attorney and the relatives of several victims would be meeting with officials at the Justice Department, the Senate and the White House. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, could not be reached for comment.
Arbery, 25, was fatally shot in February while jogging a few miles from his home in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced the arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael last month in the case. A third man, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., who filmed the shooting death, was arrested on felony murder charges, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Trump is scheduled to hold meetings with law enforcement officials and citizens who have had dealings with police. White House officials would not specify how many people or who would attend those meetings.
It was not clear if the families attended the Rose Garden event, which was attended by several police officials.
Trump's order will cover three general areas, the White House said:
– The order would call for a national certification system for law enforcement agencies to encourage the use of best practices for de-escalating situations that have the potential to turn violent. Officials did not detail how such a certification system could be set up or might work in practice.
– Creation of a database to track the use of excessive force by police officers, which would allow local departments avoid hiring officers with a history of abuse.
– Encourage police departments to embed mental health professionals with police in their response to certain calls. These "co-responders" could help police with cases involving drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and homelessness.