The killing of a Ahmaud Arbery in February provoked little law enforcement reaction in Georgia until a video of the incident went viral. It has since become a mainstream news story, and has prompted authorities in Georgia to arrest two white men. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Northeastern University law professor and WGBH News legal analyst Daniel Medwed about what could happen next and the factors that play into this particular case. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: This is a pretty heavy story. We've been hearing a lot about it from NPR and we're curious to get your take. What possible explanation beyond race — or is it as simple as that — could there be for the delay in making an arrest, given the video footage? This went on for a long time.

Daniel Medwed: Well, you certainly have to look at this case through the lens of race, given, of course, our horrible history of race relations in the United States. But another factor, I think, is that one of the defendants — the father, Greg McMichael — is a former police officer. Prosecutors are notoriously wary of being perceived as being "tough" on police officers. So I think that's another piece of the puzzle.

Mathieu: So Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael are under arrest now [and] they're charged. How does this work? What are the specific charges in the next steps?

Medwed: They've been charged with murder and aggravated assault in the state of Georgia. The theory is that the son, Travis, who evidently pulled the trigger, is the principal, while the father, Greg, is a "party to the crime." That's Georgia terminology for an accomplice. Right now, they're locked up in the Glynn County jail. That's Brunswick, where the crime occurred in south Georgia. And just yesterday, the state attorney general appointed the fourth prosecutor to take a look at this case — an African-American woman from the Atlanta area [and] the chief District Attorney in Cobb County, Joyette Holmes. So the next step will be for DA Holmes to seek an indictment before a grand jury, which, due to coronavirus restrictions in Georgia, won't happen until June 12 at the earliest.

Mathieu: We should note, if this story is new to you, that Ahmaud Arbery was a Black man who we believe was simply out for a jog when these two white men showed up. The change in prosecutor seems significant here, Daniel. It's not the first one.

Medwed: Absolutely. It's not the first, it's a fourth. The three previous prosecutors were all from small, largely white rural counties in south Georgia. Ostensibly, the reason why the attorney general appointed DA Holmes yesterday was because her office has greater resources and more experience in handling sophisticated cases than any of the preceding DAs. Another factor, perhaps, is that she is African-American and the community might have more faith or belief in her ability to lead this prosecution.

That said, she's only been the chief DA in Cobb County since last July, so she doesn't have a lot of experience. And she is a Republican. She is no bleeding heart — or at least based on her track record, one would think she's not necessarily a bleeding heart. So we'll have to see how it plays out.

Mathieu: Thoughts on what will happen with the grand jury, Daniel? Will the McMicheals be indicted?

Medwed: Well, on the one hand, it should be a slam dunk, at least historically. Grand juries are famously friendly turf for prosecutors. And the reason is that prosecutors only have to prove probable cause — that it's more likely than not that the crime occurred — and they can put on any witness they want and virtually any piece of evidence they want, even if that evidence would be inadmissible at trial, like hearsay. The defendant isn't even typically present in the room and there's no cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses.

On the other hand, we've seen some very sobering cases in the last five years where grand juries have refused to indict white men who have killed unarmed African-Americans. Remember Staten Island? Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted for choking and killing Eric Garner. Ferguson, Missouri: Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting and killing Michael Brown in cold blood. So I think we'll have to wait and see about this one, too.