Had Travis McMichael not shot Ahmaud Arbery in the chest twice with his shotgun and killed the 25-year-old Black man, Travis’ dad, Gregory McMichael, said he would have done it instead.
“‘To be perfectly honest with you, if I could have got a shot at the guy, I would have shot him myself. He was that violently…’—and then we were interrupted again,” Glynn County Police officer Jeff Brandeberry testified, reading a transcript of his body camera footage in court Tuesday morning.
Gregory McMichael also called Arbery an “asshole,” according to Brandeberry’s body camera transcript from the scene of the February 23, 2020, killing.
“How far away were you from the dead body of Ahmaud Arbery when he called him an asshole?” Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor representing the state of Georgia, asked the officer on the stand.
“Twenty, 30 feet maybe?” Brandeberry said. “Maybe a little further than that.”
During testimony Tuesday, both Brandeberry, a five-year veteran of the local police department, and Glynn County detective Parker Marcy relayed to jurors what Gregory McMichael told police at the scene of Arbery’s death and in the hours that followed. According to transcripts of body camera footage and conversations with the officers, Gregory McMichael did feel Arbery was a threat—but he didn’t make it clear that he was trying to detain the young Black man, not harm him, as he now claims.
Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and their friend William “Roddie” Bryan have all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, which include murder, by reason of self-defense.
On the day of Arbery’s death, the McMichaels and Bryan say they suspected the young Black man, who was jogging through their neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia, had been involved in a string of robberies at a nearby home under construction. So the trio of white men chased Arbery down in an attempt to detain him until the cops could arrive—a maneuver known as a “citizen’s arrest,” which was allowed under Georgia law at the time.
Brandeberry, however, testified that Gregory McMichael never mentioned the words “trespass,” “burglary,” “arrest,” or “detain” during their conversation.
“Did he ever tell you while you were talking to him that he was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest?” Dunikoski asked.
“No ma’am,” Brandeberry said.
Detective Marcy also testified that Gregory McMichael threatened to seriously hurt Arbery as he chased after him.
“I said, ‘Stop, I’ll blow your fucking head off,’ or something. I was trying to convey to this guy we were not playing,” Gregory told Marcy during an interview at the police station hours after the shooting, according to transcripts of their conversation, which Marcy read in court.
Before chasing down Arbery that day, Gregory McMichael also told the detective that he’d seen “two to three” videos of Arbery wandering into the open construction site late at night, Marcy testified. And during their conversation, Gregory McMichael specifically mentioned the words “breaking into” and “wandering around into this house,” according to Marcy. But Gregory McMichael never told the detective that he saw Arbery committing a crime before he decided to chase after him.
“I’m thinking he’s either done something to somebody, somebody’s chasing him,” Gregory McMichael said, according to a transcript of his conversation with Marcy. “Or maybe somebody drove up and found him in their house, or drove up to that particular house that he likes to go into over and over again.”
So far in the trial, prosecutors have focused their attention on questioning law enforcement. On Monday, prosecutors called two members of the Glynn County Police Department to the stand, including the investigator who took graphic photos of Arbery’s fatal injuries and the first cop to respond to the call about a “suspicious Black male” running in the neighborhood.
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