BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A white Georgia man didn’t know if Ahmaud Arbery was armed or where he was running last year whenhe grabbed his gun and began chasing the 25-year-old Black man, an officer testified Tuesday.
Greg McMichael is one of three white men charged with murder in Arbery’s death early last year in this small, coastal Georgia city. Arbery was shot by McMichael’s son, Travis, after they and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan spotted him running in their neighborhood.
Jeff Brandenberry, a Glynn County police officer, told jurors Tuesday he interviewed Greg McMichael, a retired investigator for the Brunswick district attorney’s office and a former Glynn County police officer, at the scene of the shooting.
McMichael told Brandenberry he believed Arbery was responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood and got his own weapon before pursuing him because he didn’t know if Arbery was armed.
“I don’t take any chances,” McMichael told Brandenberry, according to a transcript of Brandenberry’s body-camera video.
“I don’t know where (Arbery) was coming from down there,” McMichael told Brandenberry. Asked if Arbery had a gun, McMichael said: “No. I don’t know. I mean I couldn’t tell if it’s one on him or not.”
Investigator Parker Marcy of the Glynn County Police Department, who interviewed McMichael at police headquarters later that day, told jurors McMichael suspected Arbery had stolen a weapon. Before the killing, Greg McMichael had reported a weapon stolen from his car.
“So now we’ve got a missing weapon, and the possibility in my mind that the guy that’s been breaking in down the road there may have that weapon,” McMichael told Marcy, according to a transcript of the interview.
After the shooting, Greg McMichael said he checked Arbery for a weapon, according to a transcript of Brandenberry’s bodycam video. And, later, Greg McMichael told a bystander that Arbery “attacked” his son.
“To be perfectly honest with you, if I could have got a shot at the guy, I’d have shot him myself because he was that violently —” McMichael told Brandenberry before being interrupted by a bystander, according to the body-camera transcript.
In opening statements, attorneys for Greg and Travis McMichael argued that their clients followed Arbery in Travis’ pickup truck to detain Arbery for police questioning. The attorneys said Arbery ultimately ran toward Travis, who fired his gun in self-defense. Video taken by Bryan appears to show Arbery run past the truck and turn left toward Travis, who appears to be pointing a gun at Arbery.
The prosecution, meanwhile, contends Arbery was “under attack” and was trying to escape.Prosecutors say Arbery committed no crimes and was killed because the three defendants made a series of “assumptions” about what Arbery was doing in their neighborhood that day.
The trial is in its second week of witness testimony. So far, the jury has heard from six witnesses for the prosecution – all law enforcement officers – and have seen a series of graphic photographs and videos from the day of the shooting.
On Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors showed jurors a series of video clips taken inside a neighbor’s open home that had been under construction for months.
Arbery can be seen wandering around the open site. Asked by prosecutors if Arbery appeared to take anything from the home, Marcy said no.
According to a transcript of Marcy’s interview with McMichael, Marcy asked McMichael if Arbery had picked anything up from the construction site. McMichael said: “You know, not that I recall. I don’t think the guy has actually stolen anything out of there, or if he did, it was early in the process.”
The trial is taking place in Glynn County. While more than 26% of residents in the county are Black and more than 55% of residents in Brunswick are Black, just one juror is Black, based on information available to reporters. The court declined to release details about race or age.
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