US 'Life or death:' Travis McMichael tells Georgia jury he felt threatened by Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Detective testifies Gregory McMichael told him he did not see Ahmaud Arbery commit a crime
A Glynn County Police Department detective testified Tuesday in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery's killing that Gregory McMichael, one of the three White men charged, told him he never saw Arbery commit a crime. © Stephen B. Morton/AP Glynn County Police Department Investigative Det. Parker Marcy sits on the witness stand in the Glynn County Courthouse on Tuesday. Det. Parker Marcy was the prosecution's sixth witness in the trial. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out for a jog on February 23, 2020, near Brunswick, Georgia, when he was shot and killed.
By Jonathan Allen
(Reuters) -Travis McMichael testified at his murder trial on Wednesday that he shot Ahmaud Arbery because he thought the Black man was attacking him after McMichael and his two co-defendants chased Arbery through a mostly white Georgia neighborhood.
In over three hours on the stand, McMichael, who is white, sought to convince jurors he had good reason to grab his shotgun and jump into his pickup truck with his father to chase Arbery last year, saying they thought Arbery might be a burglar.
EXPLAINER: What the defense in Arbery's killing is arguing
ATLANTA (AP) — Travis and Greg McMichael said they armed themselves and sped after Ahmaud Arbery because they thought he was a burglar, and they wanted to catch him and hold him until police arrived. When the 25-year-old Black man turned and fought during the chase, they said, Travis McMichael shot him in self-defense. That's what the defense maintains in the trial of three white men accused in the killing of Arbery, who was shot three times in February 2020 near Brunswick, on the Georgia coast. The McMichaels, a father and son, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder and other crimes.
He frequently used police jargon and invoked law-enforcement training he got when he was a U.S. Coast Guard mechanic. Holding back tears, he said 25-year-old Arbery had frightened him.
"You pull a weapon on someone, from what I've learned in my training, usually that tells people to back off," he said, explaining why he aimed his pump-action 12-gauge shotgun at Arbery.
Arbery, however, ran toward McMichael at the end of a chase lasting about five minutes on Feb. 23, 2020, through Satilla Shores, a cluster of homes outside the small coastal city of Brunswick.
"I shot him. He had my gun," McMichael said, his voice trembling as he described a split-second when they grappled over the weapon.
Travis McMichael says Ahmaud Arbery never verbally threatened him or pulled weapon
Travis McMichael returned to the witness stand on Thursday under cross-examination from the prosecutor. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski attempted to undermine the 35-year-old McMichael's credibility by getting him to concede to inconsistencies between what he told police the day of the shooting and what he told the Brunswick, Georgia, jury during his direct testimony on Wednesday.
"It was a life or death situation," he said. McMichael fired at Arbery three times, tearing two deadly gaping wounds in his chest.
Prosecutors said Arbery was an avid runner on an afternoon jog, and cellphone footage of the killing sparked outrage when it emerged two months later.
McMichael, 35, has pleaded not guilty to murder and other crimes alongside two other white defendants: his 65-year-old father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan.
The decision to testify in his own defense was a risky legal maneuver. McMichael will now face questions from prosecutors, who have said they may ask him about Bryan's report that McMichael uttered a racial slur as he stood over Arbery's body.
'HEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?'
Travis McMichael testifies Ahmaud Arbery did not threaten him
The defense rested its case after the jury heard testimony from Travis McMichael, the man who fired the fatal shots.Travis McMichael, the man who fired the fatal shots, spent several hours on the stand Thursday testifying in his own defense and answering questions from prosecutors.
McMichael told jurors his decision to grab a gun and chase Arbery was driven by an encounter 12 days before, when he saw Arbery "creeping in the shadows" at night around a house under construction nearby.
Police had told the McMichael men that nothing was taken on that day. But they nonetheless suspected Arbery had committed theft on a different occasion and that he may have been armed on the night of Feb. 11 because of the way he seemed to reach for his waistband or pocket.
The property's owner has said through his lawyer that Arbery probably stopped to drink from a water faucet. Arbery had nothing on him besides his running clothes and shoes on the day he was shot.
Defense lawyers have said the men were legally trying to stop Arbery under a now-repealed Georgia citizen's arrest law.
McMichael, however, repeatedly said he chased Arbery only to ask him questions and that he wrongly believed his father had called 911.
"I ask him: 'Hey, what are you doing? What's going on?'" McMichael testified, saying he pulled alongside Arbery running in the road. Arbery never spoke a word in reply and looked angry with clenched teeth, McMichael said.
"He was mad, which made me think something's happened," McMichael said.
Speaking calmly and often turning to address the jurors directly, McMichael said he had arrest powers while in the U.S. Coast Guard and was trained on using force and the need for reasonable suspicion of a crime, although he never had cause to use force while on duty.
In cross examination, which was due to continue on Thursday, McMichael agreed with prosecutor Linda Dunikoski that he had been trained in constitutional limitations on law enforcement powers.
"So you learned in your time in the military that you can't force anyone to speak with you?" Dunikoski asked.
"That's correct," McMichael replied.
"And that if someone walks away, you have to let them walk away?" she asked.
"Yes," he said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Ross Colvin and Cynthia Osterman)
All 3 Defendants Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery, Black Jogger Chased Down and Shot in Georgia .
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020, after being chased on a suburban Brunswick street by three men who said they believed he was a burglarAll three men charged have been found guilty for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger they believed to be a burglar running on a suburban Georgia street, who they pursued and cornered with their pickups before a physical confrontation in which one of the men fatally shot him.