BRUNSWICK, Georgia — Two of three white men accused of killing a Black man in their neighborhood made statements to police offering potential alternatives to their roles in Ahmaud Arbery’s death.
Though Travis McMichael pulled the trigger during what he says was a fight with Arbery over his gun, McMichael’s father, Greg, told detectives he would have shot Arbery himself.
“If I could’ve gotten a shot, I would’ve shot him myself,” Greg McMichael said, according to an interview transcript read by Glynn County Police Department officer Jeff Brandeberry Tuesday during the ongoing trial of the McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan, three white men charged in the shooting death of Arbery.
Glynn County Police Department Sgt. Roderick Nohilly testified Wednesday that Greg McMichael said, “I was going to cap his ass,” had Arbery been able to take away Travis McMichael’s gun.
Bryan, who followed the McMichaels and Arbery in a truck during the 2020 incident, told detectives he wished he would have hit Arbery with his vehicle, as it would have probably prevented him from later getting shot and killed.
The three men are charged with malice and felony murder, aggravated assault and other charges, accused of following and cornering Arbery, who they believed was responsible for burglaries in their neighborhood.
Testimony from witnesses, including law enforcement, in court did not link Arbery to any crimes in the neighborhood; however, surveillance footage appears to show a Black man looking in the home under construction on several occasions, according to the defendants.
Satilla Shores resident Matthew Albenze testified Wednesday that he grabbed his gun and called Glynn County’s non-emergency number to report a Black male standing in front of the home under construction on the day of Arbery’s death Feb, 23, 2020. He said the man looked similar to the man he had seen on the homeowner’s surveillance.
The Black male, later identified as Arbery, went inside the doorless and windowless home and is seen on video running from the home shortly after. Cross-examination of Albenze indicated he had later told a detective that Arbery may have seen him on the phone, possibly causing him to flee from the house.
Arbery ran past the McMichaels’ home and the McMichaels got into their truck.
“This guy had just done something he was fleeing from,” Greg McMichael told Sgt. Nohilly in an interview.
Bryan told investigators he was working on his front porch that day when he saw Arbery running by and then a truck following behind him. Bryan recalled yelling out “Y’all got him?” to the occupants of the truck before he joined in the chase, according to former GCPD investigator Stephan Lowrey’s testimony.
The McMichaels and Bryan followed and chased Arbery on several streets of the neighborhood, with transcripts indicating Bryan stated he attempted to corner Arbery at least five times.
During the pursuit of Arbery, Greg McMichael told investigators he yelled to Arbery to stop so they could talk to him.
According to transcripts from an interview with Det. Parker Marcy of GCPD, Greg McMichael recalled: “I said ‘Stop or you know I’ll blow your (expletive) head off’ or something, ” while standing in the back up of the pickup truck with a gun.
Transcripts indicated Greg McMichael said Arbery, at some point during the chase, responded “I’m not having none of that.”
Greg McMichael told Det. Marcy they intended to hold Arbery and contact police so that Arbery could be arrested or identified; he told Marcy he had “no doubt” that Arbery was the man seen in surveillance videos, though he was unsure if Arbery had just committed a crime.
“He was cornered like a rat,” Greg McMichael told Marcy in the interview.
Bryan told investigator Lowrey that Arbery may have tried to get into his driver side of the truck during the chase, as palm prints were later found on his driver side door. In the final moments of the chase, Bryan told investigators, he came around the corner and “the Black guy wasn’t running anymore.”
“He looked like he was tired of running,” Bryan said, according to Lowrey’s testimony.
Bryan recorded the final moments of the chase on his cell phone, which captures him following behind Arbery as he approached the McMichaels in their truck, appearing to try to block Arbery.
Travis McMichael is seen exiting the driver’s seat of the truck with a shotgun while Greg McMichael stands in the bed of the truck with what appears to be a gun. Arbery is seen running around the truck and away from Travis, then toward Travis appearing to attempt to take the gun away.
During the scuffle, Ahmaud was shot and killed.
It wasn't until Bryan’s cell phone video was leaked to the public and after protests that the three men were charged with Arbery’s death in Glynn County Superior Court.
They are also federally charged with hate crimes — interference with rights and attempted kidnapping, alleging that the trio used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.
The trio contend they were trying to perform a citizen’s arrest on Arbery, which was permissible under Georgia law in certain circumstances. The state’s citizen’s arrest laws were weakened by lawmakers following Arbery’s death.
Testimony Wednesday concluded with three 911 audio calls from the McMichaels from July 2019 to February 2020. Greg called alleging a suspected homeless Black man was breaking into cars; Travis reported a pistol stolen from his truck in January 2020 and Travis reported a Black man running into the vacant home Feb. 11, 2020.