Man who shot Ahmaud Arbery stands trial for murder

BRUNSWICK, GA. – The man who shot Ahmaud Arbery spoke publicly about the murder for the first time on Wednesday, testifying at his murder trial that the 25-year-old Black man forced him to give Make a “live or die” decision in a split second by attacking him and grabbing his shotgun.

“I’m thinking of my son,” a tearful Travis McMichael told the jury of moments before pulling the trigger. “It sounds weird, but it was the first thing that caught my eye.”

He was the first witness called as defense attorney for the three white men charged in Arbery’s death to open their case, based on the argument that their client was trying to legally prevent burglaries in their neighborhood, and McMichael opened fire in self-defence.

The February 23, 2020, shooting of Arbery after he was found running in the defendants’ neighborhood sparked a nationwide outcry over racial injustice after a phone video of the His death was leaked online two months later. The family of the slain man has received support not only from civil rights activists but also from powerful figures including the governor of Georgia and President Joe Biden.

Three Men on Trial – Travis McMichael; his father, Greg McMichael; and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan – with virtually no defense but their attorney. Travis McMichael’s testimony marks the most personal and detailed account yet of why the men suspected Arbery of misconduct and why McMichael shot him.

“He took my gun,” McMichael, 35, testified. “He attacked me. It was obvious that he was attacking me, that if he got the shotgun from me, this was a life-or-death situation, and I would have to stop him from doing this so I gave him a shot. shoot. . “

He said warnings among neighbors and social media talk about car break-ins and suspicious people have increased since 2018 when he moved in with his parents in Satilla. Shores just outside the port city of Brunswick.

A man building a home five doors down from McMichaels installed security cameras after belongings were stolen from a boat in his open garage. Those cameras captured Arbery inside on four nights and on the day he was killed.

Travis McMichael said he learned of the burglary when he discovered Arbery, whom he did not know, was “hiding” and “hiding” outside the unfinished house on February 11, 2020. He testified that When trying to confront the man, Arbery reached for his belt. McMichael ran away and called 911.

“I would not pursue or investigate someone who might be armed,” he testified.

But he chased the same man 12 days later, after his father ran into the house in a “near frenzied state” and told him a “road vandal” had run over his house. surname. The father and son armed themselves and went out in Travis McMichael’s pickup truck.

They arrived when they saw Arbery running, and McMichael said he was driving beside him, berating Arbery to stop so they could talk. McMichael said that when he told Arbery “the police were on their way,” Arbery ran faster — deepening his suspicions of the man.

A black pickup truck – driven by Bryan – eventually joined the chase. Bryan was the one who recorded the footage on his cell phone.

McMichael stopped and got out of his truck. The video on Bryan’s cell phone shows Arbery running towards the truck. McMichael was standing with his shotgun in the driver’s side door and his father in the truck bed.

McMichael testified that he pointed a gun at Arbery – saying his aim was to get him to back off – and Arbery then turned around and ran around to the passenger side.

McMichael said Arbery attacked him immediately: “He was on the right-hand front panel and he turned and faced me. And it popped up, in a flash.”

In the video, the truck blocks the view until the first shot is fired. The video then shows both men holding guns as Arbery punches the bleeding McMichael. After the third shot, Arbery turned and ran, then fell face down on the road.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy said only two of the shotgun blasts hit Arbery, but each hit at close range. One punches a hole in the center of the chest. The other suffered a ruptured artery near the left armpit and a broken arm bone.

Authorities say McMichaels and Bryan chased Arbery for five minutes before the shooting, using their truck to block Arbery’s escape route. Greg McMichael told police they left him “trapped like a rat.” Bryan said he used his truck to take Arbery to the street a few times.

Speaking to reporters outside court, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said: “Mr Travis McMichael killed my son all because of a presumption. He didn’t know where Ahmaud came from or what Ahmaud did. What. He only acted on his own.”

Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, argued Wednesday that Bryan never intended to harm Arbery and never attempted to conceal his involvement in the murder. He noted that Bryan had publicly shared his video – the key piece of evidence – with officers at the scene.

The defense began the case after Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley denied the defense attorneys’ request to bar prominent civil rights leaders and other high-profile guests from the courtroom, where seating is limited because of COVID-19 precautions.

Father Jesse Jackson sat with Arbery’s parents for the second time this week. The defendants’ attorneys have said the presence of Jackson and those of others who spoke out in support of the convictions could unfairly influence the jury.

The trial is taking place before a disproportionate white jury in Glynn County courthouse in coastal Georgia.

Arbery, 25, was enrolled in a technical college and was preparing to become an electrician like his uncles when he was killed.


Associated Press reporter Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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