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As Ahmaud Arbery lay dead in the middle of the street in a pool of his own blood, Greg McMichael—a white man now charged with murder—referred to the slain 25-year-old Black man as an “a—hole,” according to testimony Tuesday.
Glynn County Police Officer Jeffrey Brandeberry, who was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene on Feb. 23, 2020, recounted his conversation with Greg just minutes after Greg’s son Travis McMichael shot Arbery as he ran down the road, Fox News reports.
“This ain’t no shuffler,” Greg said, according to a transcript of Brandeberry’s body camera read in court. “This guy’s an a—hole. He was hooked up when he came around that street.”
Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan—who drove in another vehicle and filmed the deadly encounter—are all charged with murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment in connection with Arbery’s death. They've pleaded not guilty.
Brandeberry testified that Greg told him shortly after the shooting that he saw Arbery running down the street and believed he was responsible for a series of break-ins in the neighborhood.
Greg said he called to his son and they got their own weapons before jumping into his pick up and pursuing Arbery as he ran down the street, because he wasn’t sure if Arbery was armed, USA Today reports.
“I don’t take any chances,” Greg said at the time, according to the transcript.
When asked later whether Arbery had, in fact, been armed, Greg said that he didn’t know.
Brandeberry testified that Greg’s left hand had been covered in the man’s blood because he had tried to check Arbery for a weapon after he fell face first into the street.
Prosecutors have said at the time of his death, Arbery, an avid runner, was unarmed and had no personal possessions on him. Surveillance footage played to the jury showed Arbery wandering through a home under construction before the deadly shooting, but it doesn’t look like he touched or took anything from the property.
Greg initially told Brandeberry that Arbery had been caught on security cameras “breaking in all these houses out here” and that’s why the father and son had tried to stop him that afternoon as they chased him from their pickup truck, CBS News reports.
“Well, he makes frequent trips to the neighborhood and gets caught on video cameras every third or fourth night breaking into places and no one’s been able to catch him,” he said, according to the transcript of the conversation.
Yet, when Greg later spoke with Glynn County Detective Parker Marcy at the police headquarters he said Arbery had been suspected of breaking into just one home, the home that was under construction.
Marcy testified that Greg told him he had recognized Arbery that day after seeing “two or three videos” of him “breaking into” or “wandering around this house.”
Greg’s defense attorney, Franklin Hogue, pointed out that during the discussion, Greg had mentioned there were “numerous entering autos and break-ins” in the neighborhood before the fatal shooting.
“Logic tells you this guy may be the one that’s doing it,” Greg said in the interview, according to a transcript read in court.
He also said that one of his guns had been stolen from his vehicle at some point before the shooting, leaving him to believe it was possible Arbery was armed, USA Today reports.
After jumping in the truck, Greg told Marcy he had yelled at Arbery to stop and threatened him to let him know they were serious.
“I said, ‘Stop,’ you know, ‘I’ll blow your f---ing head off,’ or something,’” he said according to the transcript. “I was trying to convey to this guy we’re not playing you know?”
Defense attorneys have said that the McMichaels were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest and Travis only killed Arbery in self-defense after he started to attack Travis and tried to grab his gun.
Brandberry testified on the scene that Greg had claimed shortly after the shooting that Arbery had attacked Travis.
“He attacked my son. He came at him. He tried to get the damn shotgun away,” Greg allegedly said, according to CBS News.
Prosecutors, however, have argued that the father and son had no reason or evidence to try to stop Arbery and said the pair chased him down and then executed an unarmed man in the street.
When asked by prosecutor Linda Dunikoski whether Greg told him he had been trying to make a citizen's arrest, Brandeberry replied, "No, ma'am," according to CNN.
Testimony in the trial is expected to continue this week.
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