BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The man seen on video fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery acknowledged that Arbery did not threaten him during a chase and that he could’ve stopped following him before the defense rested its case on Thursday.
Travis McMichael also told prosecutors he did not tell police some of the details about the pursuit that he shared in court on Wednesday.
McMichael took the stand early Thursday for cross-examination after testifying for about three hours Wednesday during which he broke down while describing the final moments of his confrontation with Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020. He was the first of seven witnesses called by the defense and told the jury he wanted to share his “side of the story.”
McMichael’s attorneys, Gregory Bryan (his father) and William Bryan (“Roddie”) Bryan (neighbor), did not present any cases prior to the defense ended. Closing arguments for McMichael’s co-defendants, his father Gregory and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were not presented before the defense rested.
On Thursday, lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski pointed out several moments when McMichael could have stopped pursuing Arbery, and McMichael agreed but said he wanted to “watch” Arbery’s movements and find out what happened.
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McMichael stated to the jury that Arbery could be armed, but Dunikoski agreed that Arbery didn’t threaten Dunikoski or wield a weapon.
McMichael claimed Thursday, “I wasn’t sure if he were a threat”
McMichael said he was later “under the impression” that Arbery could be a threat because he saw him “attacking” Bryan’s truck and Arbery ran toward him.
“All he’s done is run away from you,” Dunikoski said. “And you pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at him.”
Dunikoski noted that McMichael also told investigators that he couldn’t remember if Arbery grabbed his gun during the fight.
“So you didn’t shoot him because he grabbed the barrel of your shotgun, you shot because he came around that corner and you were right there and you just pulled that trigger immediately?” Dunikoski asked.
McMichael stated, “I was struck.” “We were face to face … and that’s when I shot.”
McMichael also made several errors in his statements, which were pointed out by Prosecutorsinitially gave police compared to what he told jurors the day before about the events leading up to the shooting.
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McMichael said Wednesday that he had told Arbery officers were coming, and this is what McMichael thinks prompted Arbery’s decision to keep running. However, McMichael admitted Thursday that he had not included this information in his police original statement. He claimed that he did not tell police he intended to arrest Arbery.Or that Arbery saw Bryan “attacking” Bryan’s truck.
Attorneys for McMichael and his father have argued that the two men chased Arbery in their pickup because they wanted to detain him for police. They said they saw him running in their neighborhood and believed he was responsible for recent break-ins. According to attorneys, Travis McMichael was shot by him in self defense.
McMichael testified Thursday that he “failed” to give fully accurate statements to police because the shooting was “the most traumatic event” of his life and at the time he was still covered in Arbery’s blood.
“Seeing how I was talking, I was under stress, nervous, scared,” he said as he looked at a transcript of his statements to police.
McMichael denied that he believed he would be going to prison during an interview for killing someone.
McMichael repeatedly told jurors he had probable cause to believe Arbery was a burglar because he saw him on neighbor Larry English’s property days before the shooting. English had alerted neighbors that people had been entering his home under construction. On Feb. 11, McMichael said Arbery appeared to reach into his pants, leading him to believe he was armed.
McMichael indicated that he believes Arbery was injured in the incident.
His testimony Thursday stated that “that was the person I believed was responsible for the crime.” His probable cause of death was he.
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Dunikoski agreed that he did not know the identity of those who stole items from English’s properties.
He stated, “But, I had a chance.”
Brook Perez, a witness also testified that English had repeatedly called her husband about the possibility of people breaking into his unsecured construction site. Perez recalled she seeing Travis and Greg McMichael outside English’s home on Feb. 11 and seeing Travis covered in blood and pacing on the day of the shooting.
Jurors also heard from six Satilla Shores residents who testified about crime in the neighborhood and Facebook pages they used to share information about it, supporting the defense’s argument that the neighborhood was “on edge” before Arbery’s shooting.
Meanwhile, outside the courthouse Thursday, a large group of Black pastors rallied to support Arbery’s family.
Bryan’s lawyer, Kevin Gough has raised concerns about the presence in court of prominent pastors, such as the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
Jackson clasped Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper Jones hands, as the prosecutors played again cellphone video footage of their son being killed.