Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Defendant Travis McMichael faces cross-examination

McMichael, one of three defendants charged in the killing, was questioned by defense and prosecution attorneys Wednesday and testified that he acted in self-defense as he and Arbery wrestled over McMichael’s shotgun.

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., all of whom are White, face charges including malice and felony murder in the death of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased by the trio on February 23, 2020, in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia.

The younger McMichael shot and killed Arbery and it was captured on cell phone video by Bryan. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Charges were not filed against the three men for months until the cell phone footage of the shooting was made public, spurring national outrage and protests. The first two prosecutors handling the case recused themselves due to conflicts of interest, citing Gregory McMichael’s position as a former investigator.
Arbery’s family has said he was out for a jog when he was shot and killed. Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels, suspecting him of burglary, were trying to conduct a lawful citizen’s arrest, and that Bryan cut him off with his vehicle and recorded video of the pursuit and shooting.
In addition to malice and felony murder, the defendants also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. All have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, each man could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

‘Life or death situation’

Travis McMichael testified that on the evening of February 11, 2020 — nearly two weeks before Arbery’s shooting — he saw someone “creeping through the shadows” in the neighborhood.
GBI investigator confirms Ahmaud Arbery was shot at close range based on the size of the holes in his shirt

He testified the person, whom he later described to police as a Black male, pulled up his shirt and went for his “pocket, waistband area.” Travis McMichael said he assumed the person was armed, so he fled in his vehicle as the person ran to a nearby home under construction.

McMichael testified he went back to his house and told his father what happened. The two went back to the house under construction and called authorities. Police never saw or talked to the person Travis McMichael said he saw that night, he testified.

Travis McMichael then testified that he was sitting in his home on the day of the shooting when his father ran inside in a “frantic state” and told his son to get his gun, saying he saw the man from days earlier and “something’s happened.”

“I recognize … it is the same guy that I saw from the 11th,” Travis McMichael said.

A timeline of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery and the case against 3 men accused of his murder
Travis McMichael testified that after pursuing Arbery with his father in a vehicle and reaching him, Arbery “turns and is on me, is on me in a flash.”

“He grabs the shotgun and I believe I was struck on that first instance that we made contact,” Travis McMichael said.

“I shot him,” Travis McMichael said, head lowered and voice cracking. “He had my gun, he struck me. It was obvious that he was, he was attacking me that if he would have got the shotgun from me, then it was, this is a life-or-death situation. And I’m gonna have to stop him from doing this, so I shot.”

“I didn’t know where I was at, but I knew that he was on me, I knew that I was losing this,” Travis McMichael said. “I knew that he was overpowering me but I didn’t know which direction or what mechanics he was doing to overpower me.”

Travis McMichael speaks from the witness stand during his trial Wednesday in Brunswick, Georgia

Arbery’s family reacts to defendant’s testimony

Following Wednesday’s court proceedings, Arbery family members and representatives responded to Travis McMichael’s testimony.

Speaking from the courthouse steps, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said she appreciated McMichael taking the stand because “it gave my family and I some insight on what he was actually thinking.”

An attorney's attempt to ban Black pastors isn't keeping the Rev. Jesse Jackson away from the Arbery killing trial

“Mr. Travis McMichael killed my son all on assumptions,” she said. “He had no real facts or where Ahmaud was coming from, what Ahmaud had done. He just took actions into his own hands.”

She added, “He didn’t have any facts on hand when he chose to pull the trigger. Not one time, but three times.”

Cooper-Jones was joined by Ahmaud’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr. She said the family was grateful for the support they are getting.

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Ben Crump, attorney for Arbery Sr., dismissed McMichael’s defense and said the trial has been very tough on Arbery’s parents.

“It’s heart-wrenching. That’s why they need prayers, and they need the pastors’ prayers for them, just so they can try to keep their sanity,” Crump said.

“If this was your child, how would you keep composure after you see these people lynch him and then you see them offer this self-defense and people are actually taking this as if it’s credible?” Crump said.

A rally at the courthouse attended by the Rev. Al Sharpton and other pastors to show support for Arbery’s family is expected Thursday morning, and a march is planned in the afternoon.

CNN’s Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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