Wednesday, August 17, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Prosecution in trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing pokes holes in ‘citizen’s arrest’ defense

Two Georgia cops who interviewed one of the men charged in Arbery's fatal shooting said he never used the words “citizen’s arrest," “detain” or “trespass."

(CN) — Prosecutors on Tuesday used the testimony of two police officers involved with the investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery to cast doubt on the citizen’s arrest defense raised by the three white defendants charged with the Black jogger’s murder.

The officers, who both interviewed defendant Greg McMichael on the day of Arbery’s fatal shooting in south Georgia, said he never mentioned trying to make a citizen’s arrest on Arbery and never used the term "citizen’s arrest" in his conversations with them.

McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment for chasing Arbery with their pick-up trucks after spotting him jogging through their neighborhood last February.

The men have said they were attempting to detain Arbery based on suspicions that he might be a burglar who had been seen entering a nearby construction site.

According to testimony from former Glynn County patrol officer Ricky Minshew on Monday, Bryan attempted to “corner” Arbery with his vehicle five times. The chase ended when Travis McMichael shot Arbery twice as the two men struggled for control of Travis’s shotgun.

Arbery was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

All three men were allowed to leave the scene and were not arrested until three months later, when video of the killing filmed by Bryan was leaked and went viral.

Attorneys for Travis McMichael have said their client only shot Arbery in self-defense. During opening statements in the case on Friday, the prosecution told the panel of jurors — 11 white and one Black — that Arbery was “under attack” and was only trying to escape.

The prosecution on Tuesday set out to poke holes in a crucial element of the defense’s case: that the defendants chased Arbery so they could detain him under a Civil War-era Georgia law, which was repealed this year in response to Arbery’s murder.

Glynn County patrol officer Jeffrey Brandeberry, who was assigned to interview Greg McMichael at the crime scene, testified Tuesday morning that McMichael never told him he was trying to make a citizen’s arrest.

Brandeberry said McMichael never used the word “burglary” or “trespass” during the interview.

Asked by prosecutor Linda Dunikoski whether McMichael ever used the words “citizen’s arrest” or “detain," Brandeberry said, “No m’am.”

Brandeberry described McMichael as “amped up” and “pretty upset” at the scene of the shooting.

According to the transcript of Brandeberry’s bodycam footage from that day, McMichael told the officer he pursued Arbery after seeing the 25-year-old run past his house.

“This guy [Arbery] comes hauling ass down the street. I’m talking about dead run. He’s not jogging,” McMichael told Brandeberry.

McMichael said he ran to his bedroom to get his .357 Magnum before pursuing him. “I don’t take any chances,” he said to the officer.

Brandeberry testified that as all three defendants gave chase, McMichael yelled at Arbery to stop running away.

“To be perfectly honest with you, if I could’ve gotten a shot at the guy I would’ve shot him myself because he was that violently—” Brandeberry said McMichael told him before they were interrupted by a bystander.

Franklin Hogue, an attorney who represents Greg McMichael, argued Tuesday that McMichael acted out of a belief that Arbery had been breaking into houses in the neighborhood.

Reading from the bodycam transcript, Hogue said McMichael thought Arbery had made “frequent trips to the neighborhood” where he’d get “caught on video cameras every third or fourth night breaking into places and nobody’s been able to catch him.”

But Brandeberry testified that McMichael never told him which houses Arbery had allegedly broken into. He also never told the officer he had any evidence that Arbery broke into houses.

Dunikoski pointed out that Arbery was only seen entering one house on the street — an unfinished home under construction. Video footage captured by the homeowner’s security cameras and played in court shows Arbery entering the home and leaving without taking or damaging anything.

Glynn County investigator Parker Marcy, the sixth witness for the state, testified Tuesday that Greg McMichael told him he didn’t think Arbery had actually stolen anything from the construction site.

“I don’t think the guy has actually stolen anything out of there, or if he did it was early in the process,” McMichael told Marcy.

During an interview with Marcy at Glynn County police headquarters, Marcy said McMichael told him his intention “was to stop this guy so he could be arrested or identified at the very least.”

Asked whether he indicated what Arbery should be arrested for, Marcy said McMichael never explained.

At the prosecution’s request, Marcy created a report showing the list of calls about suspicious persons or burglaries in the Satilla Shores neighborhood made to police between January 2019 and May 2020.

When Dunikoski inquired whether Arbery was a suspect in any of those incidents, Marcy replied “No ma’am.”

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...