Three white men accused of the murder of Ahmed Arberry had no reason to arrest civilians when they saw them in their neighborhood, and they pursued them “because they were a black man running on their street,” the prosecutor said Monday. Closing arguments.
Arguments began before an uneven white jury after 10 days of testimony concluded last week, shortly after testimony that the man who shot Arberry pulled the trigger for self-defense.
Arberry’s murder became part of a larger national reckoning of racial injustice two months later after the Grik video of his death leaked online. Although prosecutors do not argue that racism has prompted the assassination, federal authorities have charged all three men with hate crimes, accusing Arberry of chasing them because he was black.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael followed Arbury, 25, in a pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2020, after they noticed a man driving in his neighborhood. Travis McMichael threw Arberry bullets and fired when he grabbed for his shotgun.
No one was charged in the murder until Brian’s video was leaked and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police. All three are facing murder and other charges.
Prosecutor Linda Dudinovsky said the jury found no evidence that Arberry committed crimes in her neighborhood, but that she acted on assumptions based on neighborhood gossip and speculative social media posts.
“Because Ahmed Arberry was a black man running in his street, he decided to attack his driveways,” Dvidowski said. She added: “They shot him and killed him.
According to defense attorneys, Arberry is suspected of stealing a home under construction and intending to hold him until police arrive. Between October 2019, the day Arberry was killed, security cameras recorded him inside the home five times. No videos showed he was stealing or damaging anything.
Dimitrovsky said McMichaels and Brian followed Arberry for five minutes, using his trucks to cut him off, drive him off the road, and otherwise prevent him from running away. And she repeated the words of Greg Michael to local police after the shooting, that Arberry was “trapped like a mouse”.
Brian recorded that Travis McMichael was standing with the shotgun outside the driver’s side door of his idling truck as Arberry moved on foot, then drove to the passenger side. They met in front of the truck, which blocked the view of the camera, when Travis McMichael fired the first of three shotgun blasts. The video shows Arberry punching him and grabbing a gun while firing two more bullets, then trying to run again before confronting him on the street.
Travis McMichael’s defense attorney, Jason Sheffield, said he did not intend to kill Arberry until his client made a life or death decision to protect him.
“If he had stayed home that day, he would have just sat on the couch and slept with his baby – Travis told us he wouldn’t think the same thing,” Sheffield said. “But the law allows a person to detain a citizen.”
Residents of Satilla Shores are already worried amid reports of burglary and suspicious activity in the neighborhood, with Arberry continuing to be caught on cameras in an unfinished home – “a repeat offender who comes at a time when there is no legal cause.”
Sheffield said that frequent visits to the site make it reasonable to suspect that shortly before the cameras were installed, the homeowner stole items from a boat that had been kept in a garage that had not been tilted. Travis McMichael then had his own “terrifying experience,” Sheffield said, “when he confronted Arberry in the yard 12 days before the shooting. He told 911 dispatchers to suffocate. Arberry reached into his pocket with a firearm when confronted.
“A crime has been committed, and they know about it,” Sheffield said. “He has seen everything except the hand on the stolen equipment.”
Dudytowski noted that during his chase, Arberry never threatened McMichael’s and that he did not carry any veins.
“You can’t bring a gun to a fist fight. It’s unfair, right? Said the prosecutor.
Travis McMichael attacked Arberry – first with his truck, then with a shotgun pointing at him when Arberry ran toward him.
“They can’t get self-defense under the law because they were early, illegitimate aggressors, and they started it,” Dudytowski said.
Arberry enrolled in a technical college and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncles when he was killed.