A Brunswick, Georgia, criminal defense lawyer who had informally consulted with a father and son accused of taking to a pickup truck to pursue and gun down 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in the Brunswick community of Satilla Shores says he leaked video footage of the slaying.
Attorney Alan Tucker, told The New York Times Friday that he got the video that sparked national outrage this past Tuesday from the cellphone of Travis McMichael’s neighbor, William Bryan, who filmed the altercation.
But Tucker says his leak to a local radio station was not to exculpate Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, but to show the public what actually occurred on Feb. 23 after the armed duo pursued Arbery in a white pickup truck.
“It wasn’t two men with a Confederate flag in the back of a truck going down the road and shooting a jogger in the back,” he told the newspaper, citing rumors that he said had fueled tensions in the community. “It got the truth out there as to what you could see. My purpose was not to exonerate them or convict them.”
As for his motivation, the attorney pointed to his love for his community.
“I love this community and have spent my career helping people in this community,” Tucker told GPB News. “My sole purpose in releasing the video was absolute transparency because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions.”
Although Tucker’s firm, Tucker & Browning, was not formally representing the McMichaels, First Coast News reports that the criminal defense lawyer consulted with 34-year-old Travis McMichael advising him to “keep his mouth shut” regarding his conversations with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
He later declined comment to The New York Times, citing attorney-client privilege, when asked about his previous conversations with the McMichaels.
By Friday afternoon, a few hours after bond had been denied for the father-son duo who were arrested late Thursday evening, Tucker said he, nor his firm, would act as the lawyer for either of the McMichaels or represent them in any formal capacity.
Investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to the GBI. During its press conference Friday morning Director Vic Reynolds said that “probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly,” after the bureau only became involved with the February investigation of the killing late Tuesday evening.
The GBI became involved in the case late in the evening of the day the video came into public view. Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden, who took over the case in April after two previous district attorneys recused themselves over conflicts of interest involving the McMichaels, had little to add to what is publicly known in his statements Friday.
“We take what we’re given, and we go from there and go back and look at what has been done, and then go ahead,” Durden said. “As far as the GBI’s involvement and so forth, I will say this: There were — and continue to be — some new developments in the case.”
The GBI’s Reynolds said Friday that his agency will not be swayed by the heightened emotions the case has aroused. “Regardless of the amount of social media, regardless of the amount of mainstream media attention, regardless of the emotion, regardless of supposed timeline, none of that matters to the GBI,” Reynolds said. “It doesn’t matter who the person is, it doesn’t matter who the victim is, it doesn’t matter who potential defendants are. All that matters is what the facts tell us.”