BRUNSWICK, Nov 11 — One of the three white men on trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery told police that as they chased the Black man around their southern Georgia neighborhood Arbery realised “he was not going to get away,” a jury heard yesterday.
“He was trapped like a rat,” Gregory McMichael, 65, told a Glynn County detective a few hours after the deadly pursuit of Arbery, according to an interview transcript read aloud in the county Superior Court.
McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges.
They say they thought Arbery might have been fleeing a crime when he ran through Satilla Shores, a suburb of the small coastal city of Brunswick, on February 23, 2020. Prosecutors say Arbery was an avid runner out for a Sunday afternoon jog.
They pursued Arbery in pickup trucks before the younger McMichael pointed a shotgun and fired as Arbery ran toward him and reached at the weapon. Their lawyers say this was justified self defence.
“I think he was wanting to flee and he realised that, you know, he was not going to get away,” the elder McMichael said in the interview with Roderic Nohilly, the county detective.
Nohilly told the jury he had known McMichael for years: the defendant had previously worked at the local prosecutor’s office and would drop off paperwork at the police station.
McMichael said he “had never laid eyes” on Arbery before he ran past his driveway, according to the interview transcript.
Nohilly asked McMichael the reason for the chase: “Did this guy break into a house today?”
“Well that’s just it, I don’t know,” McMichael replied.
Prosecutors from the Cobb County district attorney’s office are seeking to undermine the defence that the three men were trying to make a citizen’s arrest under a state law that was subsequently repealed.
They have drawn jurors’ attention to the sometimes sympathetic treatment the McMichaels and Bryan received from the officers and detectives on the scene, most of whom are also white.
On the day of the shooting, Matthew Albenze, a Satilla Shores resident, was in his yard when he noticed Arbery standing outside a nearby house that was under construction.
Albenze told the jury he grabbed his cellphone, put his handgun in his pocket and called the non-emergency number for the county police after seeing Arbery go inside the construction site.
“I did not see an emergency,” Albenze said when asked by prosecutor Linda Dunikoski why he did not dial 911.
He told the police operator he could see a suspicious Black man in a white T-shirt.
“I just need to know what he was doing wrong,” the operator asked, according to a recording played in court.
“He’s been caught on camera a bunch before, it’s kind of an ongoing thing out here,” Albenze told the operator, saying Arbery was now running off the property.
The operator said police would head over, and Albenze went back home. A few minutes later, Albenze heard gunfire: three shots. — Reuters