Video of the partial arrest of a father and son accused of taking to a pickup truck to pursue and gun down a 25-year-old Black man jogging through their South Georgia neighborhood has been released.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault on Thursday, May 7, in relation to the Feb. 23 slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, of Brunswick, Georgia.
The two McMichaels were booked into the Glynn County Jail, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
A press conference will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, May 8, at 1 Conservation Way in Brunswick. The conference, which will also be streamed via Facebook Live for the purpose of social distancing, is to update the public on the homicide investigation.
The arrests follow national outrage generated by a cell phone video of the slaying that was leaked to activist Shaun King and a local news outlet. The publicity of the 28-second recording of Arbery’s last moments pressured state officials to take immediate action to demonstrate pursuit of justice on what had previously appeared to be a stalled case.
Prior to the arrests of the two men, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, had told ABC News she believed authorities hadn’t taken them into custody because of Gregory McMichael’s lengthy career as an investigator in the Brunswick district attorney’s office.
“I think that they don’t feel like he was wrong because he was one of them,” she said.
The video, captured by Travis McMichael’s neighbor, William Bryan, shows Arbery jogging around the Satilla Shores neighborhood, just outside the port city of Brunswick, on the sunny afternoon of Feb 23, when the McMichaels pull up alongside him on a residential street.
A struggle between the 25-year-old and the shotgun-wielding Travis McMichael ensues when McMichael gets out of the vehicle to confront Arbery. Arbery tries to wrest the shotgun from McMichael, and a shot rings out. Gregory McMichael, who was himself armed with a .357 handgun, is watching the two men struggle for the gun from the back of the white pickup. The footage ends with two loud gunshots.
The three men were reported to have been in “hot pursuit” of Arbery, according to a memo written by Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George E. Barnwell, whom Arbery’s parents asked to step down from the case due to his apparent conflicts of interest in the case. Gregory McMichaal served for decades as an investigator in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. Barnwell’s son, George F. Barnwell, is an assistant DA in the Brunswick Circuit.
The McMichael duo told police they grabbed their guns and hopped in their truck to pursue Arbery after they saw him running in their neighborhood. They said they believed Arbery was responsible for several recent burglaries in their neighborhood. Gregory McMichael claimed his son jumped out of the truck with a shotgun in hand and was attacked by Arbery, according to a police report. The two men fought over the firearm before Arbery was shot, it states.
Arbery, who lived in a community adjacent to the McMichaels, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Glynn County coroner. No weapons were found on him, according to the police report.
Audio recordings of two 911 calls have shed further light on Arbery’s final moments. The first call came in at 1:08 p.m. on Feb. 23, during which an unidentified male caller reports “a guy in a house right now, a house under construction,” The Guardian reports.
When the dispatcher asks whether the house is being broken into, the caller says, “No, it’s all open, it’s under construction.”
The caller follows that declaration by saying, “He’s running right now, and there he goes right now,” as Arbery apparently continues his typical jog through the neighborhood. The dispatcher says, “OK, what is he doing?” The caller answers, “He’s running down the street.”
The dispatcher responds, “I just need to know what he was doing wrong. Was he just on the premises and not supposed to be?”
The caller’s response is garbled at first, and there is never a clear answer to the question. The dispatcher would go on to say she’ll send out an officer, and then she ends the call
The second call, at 1:14 p.m., records the dispatcher asking for an address and reason for the call. Another male voice answers, “Uh, I’m out here at Satilla Shores. There’s a black male running down the street,” again apparently referring to Arbery.
At this point the caller does not respond to the dispatcher’s questions, but instead can be heard yelling, “Stop. Stop that. Damn it. Stop.” Seconds later he shouts, “Travis!” in an apparent reference to Travis McMichael. The dispatcher is unable to get the caller’s attention after that, although the call continues recording for almost five more minutes.
Ben Crump, an attorney representing Arbery’s family, felt authorities could have made the May 7 arrest much sooner.
“It’s outrageous that it has taken more than two months for Ahmaud Arbery’s executioners to be arrested, but better late than never,” he said in a statement Thursday night. “This is the first step to justice. This murderous father and son duo took the law into their own hands.”