Ahmaud Arbery trial: Travis McMichael admits Arbery made no threats before McMichael raised his gun

Ahmaud Arbery trial: Travis McMichael admits Arbery made no threats before McMichael raised his gun

Trial of Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan for the Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Travis McMichael, the White man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery, admitted Thursday on cross-examination that the unarmed 25-year-old didn’t speak or threaten him before McMichael raised his shotgun during a chase through a Georgia neighborhood. 

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski repeatedly asked McMichael, 35, whether Arbery had yelled at him or brandished a weapon before the deadly encounter on Feb. 23, 2020.

Travis McMichael speaks from the witness stand during his trial Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged in the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

“No,” McMichael testified in Glynn County Superior Court. “He was just running.”

McMichael is on trial alongside his father Greg McMichael, 65, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, for murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment. 

The three men pursued Arbery for five minutes through Satilla Shores on a Sunday afternoon after he ran by their homes, and they suspected he was a burglar. Arbery was captured on surveillance footage five times in a nearby under-construction home, but there is no evidence he ever stole anything. 

This combination of booking photos provided by the Glynn County, Ga., Detention Center shows, from left, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan.
(Glynn County Detention Center via AP, File)

Arbery didn’t utter a word to the men.

“You know that no one has to talk to anyone they don’t want to talk to, right?” Dunikoski said. 

On the day of the killing, Travis McMichael said, he recognized Arbery as the same man in the surveillance footage and was struck by his angry demeanor and suspicious behavior.

At the end of the chase, Travis McMichael stepped out of his pickup truck while his dad stood on the bed armed with a handgun. Bryan was nearby filming part of the fatal interaction on his cellphone. 

Ahmaud Arbery

Travis McMichael flashed his shotgun to deter Arbery from charging at him, he told jurors on direct examination Wednesday. But Arbery raced around the side of the truck and attacked Travis, according to Travis.

After the two tussled over the shotgun, Travis McMichael said he made a “life-or-death” decision and shot Arbery twice in the torso.

Lawyers for the men have argued that they believed Arbery was behind a rash of thefts and break-ins in the neighborhood and were trying to detain him until police arrived. 

Prosecutors have countered that Arbery was an “avid runner” who had committed no crime when the men decided to chase him.

After Travis McMichael stepped off the stand, the defense called as witnesses a string of Satilla Shores residents who chronicled the petty crimes that had occurred in the neighborhood. 

Meanwhile, over 100 pastors gathered outside the Glynn County courthouse Thursday and prayed during the proceeding. Rev. Al Sharpton announced the rally after Bryan’s defense lawyer, Kevin Gough, said he didn’t want “any more Black pastors” sitting with Arbery’s family in the courtroom. 

On a subsequent day, Gough asked the judge to eject Rev. Jesse Jackson from the public gallery, arguing that the presence of civil rights icons could sway the jury. 

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