Detective testifies that Gregory McMichael told him he did not see Ahmaud Arbery commit a crime

Detective testifies that Gregory McMichael told him he did not see Ahmaud Arbery commit a crime
Stephen B. Morton/AP

A Glynn County Police Department detective testified Tuesday in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing that Gregory McMichael, one of the three White men charged, told him he never saw Arbery commit a crime.

Det. Parker Marcy was the prosecution’s sixth witness in the trial.

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out for a jog on February 23, 2020, near Brunswick, Georgia, when he was shot and killed. McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. are accused of chasing and killing him.

Defense attorneys contend their clients were trying to conduct a lawful citizen’s arrest of Arbery, whom they suspected of burglary after they and several neighbors became concerned about individuals entering a home under construction. The defense contends Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense, as Arbery and Travis McMichael wrestled over McMichael’s shotgun.

Reading a transcript from an interview he conducted after the shooting, Marcy quoted Gregory McMichael as saying he had seen videos of the home under construction and saw a person who appeared to be Arbery “breaking into, or being, or wandering around” the construction site, but offered no details as to the date of the videos. McMichael said the house had no doors and no windows for “well over a year.”

“I don’t think the guy has actually stolen anything out of there or if he did, it was early in this process,” the detective quoted McMichael as saying during that interview. “But he keeps going back there over and over and over again to this damn house.”

Marcy testified videos from the site, which were shown in court Tuesday, showed Arbery was “walking around looking at the construction.”

When Gregory McMichael saw Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23, 2020, he said he ran into his home and grabbed a gun, according to the transcript, and told his son to cut Arbery off while they were pursuing him.

“I said stop,” Gregory McMichael said, according to the transcript. “I’ll blow your f**king head off, or something. I was trying to convey to this guy we were not playing, you know.”

Marcy testified Gregory McMichael discussed various crimes, including break-ins and burglaries, he suspected Arbery had committed but provided no details of the crimes. Marcy also said Gregory McMichael used his son’s phone to call 911 and said if Arbery had stopped running, they planned “to hold him,” but he did not use the words “arrest,” “citizen’s arrest” or “detain,” or say what Arbery would be arrested for.

During Marcy’s cross-examination, the judge asked the jury to step outside before he scolded a defense attorney, following the defense’s line of questioning on the definition of “burglaries” that Gregory McMichael claimed were happening in the neighborhood.

“I don’t know why I am so confused,” Jason Sheffield, attorney for defendant Travis McMichael, muttered.

“I don’t care whether you like my rulings or not or you like me or not,” Judge Timothy Walmsley said. “But in this court, the Superior Court, it is axiomatic that counsel show at least respect for what the court is doing. And what you just did shows a lack of respect for what the court is trying to do here, which is create an environment which is fair to all parties.”

Officer testified Gregory McMichael didn’t mention citizen’s arrest

Glynn County police Officer Jeff Brandeberry, who also interviewed Gregory McMichael, testified earlier Tuesday that McMichael never used the words “arrest,” “detain” or “trespass” when he spoke with him at the scene of the shooting. Brandeberry testified Gregory McMichael appeared “animated” and “pretty amped up” when he arrived.

“Did he ever tell you while you were talking to him that he was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest?” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked Brandeberry.

“No, ma’am,” Brandeberry replied.

On the day of the shootiing, Brandeberry was a patrol officer on his second day back after rejoining the force. He was responding to a separate domestic violence call in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick when he was redirected to the scene of Arbery’s shooting.

Brandeberry was assigned to interview Gregory McMichael. He testified to what McMichael told him during his interview on scene using transcripts from his body camera footage. A portion of the footage was shown by the prosecutors and the defense.

“He (Gregory McMichael) had blood on, I believe, it was his left hand,” Brandeberry said.

Gregory McMichael explained that blood by saying that after Arbery was shot and still breathing while lying face down, McMichael pulled out one of Arbery’s arms to check whether he had a weapon, Brandeberry testified.

Brandeberry also testified about what Gregory McMichael said led to the shooting. McMichael said he saw a Black man run by his house, the officer testified.

According to his transcript, McMichael told Brandeberry, “This guy comes hauling ass down the street. I’m talking about dead run, he’s not jogging.” He told Brandeberry he ran into his house.

McMichael went on to say, “So I haul ass into my bedroom to get (a) .357 Magnum, adding, “I don’t take any chances,” according to the transcript.

Brandeberry testified that McMichael told him he was yelling to Arbery, “Stop, stop. I want to talk to you.” Once, he caught up to Arbery in his truck, yelling, “Stop. God damn it.”

During re-direct by the prosecutor, Brandeberry clarified he could not testify as to how many times Gregory McMichael yelled, “Stop. God damn it.”

Bryan, who recorded a video of the shooting, allegedly hit Arbery with his truck after he joined the McMichaels in chasing Arbery. The three men were allowed to leave the scene and weren’t arrested until after the video of the shooting became public.

The McMichaels and Bryan are charged with malice and felony murder in connection with the killing. They also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. All have pleaded not guilty.

Gregory McMichael said he would have shot Arbery, officer testifies

When asked how many shots were fired, McMichael told the officer that there were “two shots,” according to Brandeberry.

“If I could have got a shot at the guy, I’d have shot him myself, because he was, he was that violently — ” McMichael said, according to the transcript, before a bystander interrupted the conversation.

At that point, McMichael started speaking to a civilian who was on the scene, Brandeberry testified. That conversation was picked up by his body camera. The unnamed person inquired about who was shot.

The unidentified man then asked if Travis McMichael was OK.

“He is upset as hell,” Gregory McMichael said, according to the transcript. “He attacked my son.”

“He (Arbery) came at him,” McMichael goes on to say, according to the transcript. “He tried to get the damn shotgun away.”

During cross-examination, Gregory McMichael’s attorney, Franklin Hogue, read from the transcript that Gregory McMichael thought Arbery had been breaking into houses in the neighborhood.

“This guy, who we’ve seen on video numerous times, breaking into these other houses, he comes hauling ass down the street. I mean, he’s got it hooked up,” McMichael said, according to the transcript.

The prosecution also walked through pictures that police took of Travis McMichael just after the shooting. Travis McMichael is shown with blood on his arms and shirt, with blood spatter also on his jeans and face.

Jurors, all wearing facemasks, appeared to listen attentively to Brandeberry’s testimony, according to the pool reporter in the courtroom.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother; Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father and Leigh McMichael, the mother and wife of Travis and Gregory McMichael, were in the courtroom, according to the pool reporter.

Prosecution and defense detailed events leading up to shooting

In last week’s opening statements, prosecutors laid out what happened in the days leading up to the shooting.

Months before the shooting, Larry English, the owner of a home under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, grew concerned about people wandering onto the “open” and “unsecured” construction site, Dunikoski said in her opening statements.

Prosecutors showed the jury surveillance videos of Arbery entering the site, each time wandering around and leaving without incident. Other people had also been present on the property, Dunikoski noted. The homeowner had contacted police about the issue several times, Dunikoski said, but told them Arbery — who was unidentified at the time — had never taken anything.

The day of the shooting, Arbery entered the construction site again and was seen by a neighbor who called authorities on a nonemergency line, Dunikoski said. Arbery soon left and ran further into the neighborhood, at which point he was seen by Greg McMichael, who was in his driveway.

But at that time, neither had any knowledge Arbery had done anything wrong, nor that he had been on the construction site, Dunikoski said.

Also last week, Bob Rubin, Travis McMichael’s attorney, said Travis had a run-in on February 11, 2020, with Arbery, who had entered the under-construction property again.

Travis McMichael called 911 in that instance and said the person he encountered had reached into his pocket, according to audio of the call Rubin played in court. This gave Travis McMichael the belief Arbery could be armed, the attorney said.

Arbery had no weapon when he was killed, authorities said.

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