Man accused of Ahmaud Arbery murder checked body for a gun but found none, jury hears

'I didn't know if he had a weapon or not,' Gregory McMichael said

One of the men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in a southern Georgia suburb in 2020 bloodied himself as he examined the black jogger's body, looking in vain for a weapon, a police officer told a court on Tuesday.

Gregory McMichael is one of three white men on trial for the killing of Arbery, who they say they suspected may have been fleeing a crime when they pursued him in vehicles, cornered him and shot him on a street in their mostly white neighbourhood.

Arbery's family and their supporters say the 25 year-old was pursued because he was black.

Mr McMichael told police that Arbery was moving fast through the neighbourhood.

“I'm talking about a dead run. He’s not jogging,” Glynn County police officer Jeff Brandeberry quoted Mr McMichael as saying, as he read a transcript of a video recording from his body camera.

Mr McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and neighbour, William “Roddie” Bryan, have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment for their deadly pursuit of Arbery on February 23, 2020.

They face life in prison if convicted by a jury composed of 11 white people and one black person.

Prosecutors have said the men “assumed the worst” of Arbery as he ran through the Satilla Shores neighbourhood outside Brunswick, which had experienced some recent thefts from cars.

After Arbery was trapped by the three men, he was seen on video reaching out for the younger Mr McMichael's shotgun.

Arbery was shot three times at close range.

Mr Brandeberry said he arrived on the scene shortly after the shooting and interviewed the elder Mr McMichael, who had blood on his right hand.

The officer testified that Mr McMichael got blood on himself when he moved Arbery's arm as he lay prone on the ground after the shooting to check him for a weapon.

“I didn't know if [Arbery] had a weapon or not,” Mr McMichael told the officer while explaining why he had touched the body, the transcript read to the jury said.

Arbery was unarmed.

The elder Mr McMichael said he shouted at Arbery from his vehicle to stop running.

“Stop, stop, stop, [expletive] it,” Mr McMichael said, according to the transcript. He had been armed with a pistol he fetched after seeing Arbery run down the street.

“I don’t take any chances,” Mr McMichael, a former policeman, told the officer.

Most of Tuesday's evidence was focused on Mr Brandeberry and another Glynn County police officer, Detective Parker Marcy. Both interviewed the elder Mr McMichael.

Mr McMichael, who began the armed chase of Arbery, told Mr Marcy that he thought Arbery might have committed a crime, the detective told the jury.

He told the detective he “wanted to hold Arbery for the police, so he could be arrested, or identified at the very least,” a transcript of Mr Marcy's interview at the county police headquarters read.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked whether the elder Mr McMichael had ever told the detective that he was trying to “detain” or “arrest” Arbery.

Mr McMichael had not, Mr Marcy replied.

The accused have argued they were trying to make a citizen's arrest under a state law that Georgia has since repealed.

Updated: November 10th 2021, 12:25 AM
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