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‘Didn’t Know How to Respond’: GBI Agents Describe Gregory and Travis McMichael Being ‘Shocked’ and ‘Surprised’ As They Were Being Arrested for Killing Ahmaud Arbery

Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers, who were tapped to detain two of the men sentenced to life in prison for the killing Ahmaud Arbery, say that they were both surprised about being arrested. The detectives also noted that despite having footage of the murder, getting a conviction would not be easy, but they were proud to secure justice for the family.

Atlanta TV news station WSB conducted interviews with several of the 20 GBI detectives who worked to bring justice to the family of the 25-year-old Black jogger shot dead by white men on the streets of a subdivision just outside the city limits of Brunswick, Georgia.

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Each remembered the events leading up to the arrest of Travis and Gregory McMichael and how shocked the father and son were once they were told there were warrants out for their arrests.

Weeks after Arbery was killed, the GBI was brought in to investigate the slaying on May 5, 2020, after the video of Arbery’s slaying leaked to a local TV station, and the father and son were arrested at their home in the coastal Georgia community on May 7.

Richard Dial, the supervisor in the GBI’s Kingsland office, said, “When we pulled up on the McMichael residence, we encountered Greg. He was out front.” Other officers supported him in the detainment.

Jason Seacrist from the GBI’s Douglas office referred to the elder McMichael’s reaction as “surprised.” The officer said, “I really think that he thought he was going to get through this without any consequences.”

Dial’s recollection confirmed what his fellow detective remembered, by describing his response to the arrest as being “shocked” and “surprised.”

“To see Cyrus’ large truck pull up and four agents initially jump out in tact-gear and to be told he was under arrest … to be handcuffed …” Seacrist detailed. “I think he was shocked and didn’t know how to respond.”

Dial continued, “We quickly took him into custody. Found out from him that Travis McMichael, who we also had a warrant for, was in the backyard of the residence.”

“He was in the back on the fishing dock,” Officer Cyrus Purdimon, a sole Black detective at the arrest, said. “We made contact with him as well in front of his mom.”

Dial recalled going to get the son, “Myself and Cyrus proceeded to the back. He was also surprised. He was very cooperative but very surprised.”

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and Roddie Bryan — the neighbor who helped corner Arbery and recorded the fatal encounter on his cellphone — were all sentenced on the state level to life in prison for murder in Arbery’s slaying. However, the three men are still named as defendants in a federal trial about the killing. The GBI continues to work with law enforcement to bring justice to the memory of the young Black man. 

A federal judge is considering if prosecutors should be allowed to use “racially insensitive” text messages and other “racial-animus evidence” in the upcoming hate crimes trial of three white men. 

The messages show Bryan saying that a) he believes his friend’s bike was stolen by a Black person and b) stated his “disapproval of his adopted daughter dating an African American.” The man’s lawyer, Pete Theodocion, contends that admitting the messages will bias the jury against his client.

He said, “The evidence Defendant Bryan seeks to exclude is of a highly inflammatory nature and would significantly limit his ability to be fairly tried by an impartial jury. An African American juror would be particularly and rightfully angered at such language and would naturally be hyper-inclined to make a decision on an improper basis.”

The “racial-animus evidence,” which is in the prosecution’s court filings, is Dial’s testimony during the June 2020 pretrial hearing in the state’s murder case. He said that Bryan told him that Travis McMichael murmured the “N-word” as he stood over Arbery’s body after shooting him in the street.

Dial also said that GBI discovered that Travis McMichael used the N-word “numerous times” on social media. 

Travis McMichael’s legal team says that this is not true. 

This evidence provided by the GBI was not used in the state’s trial, and a judge will decide if it is relevant for the next one.

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