After Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead, an officer who responded to the scene testified that Gregory McMichael’s left hand was covered in blood.
McMichael, who initiated the chase, had checked the 25-year-old Black jogger’s body, as he lay bleeding on the pavement, for a weapon that he would never find.
Glynn County Police Officer Jeff Brandeberry, was one of two officers who testified in court Tuesday for the third day of trial, according to CBS News.
When asked why he touched the body after the shooting, McMichael told Brandeberry that he “didn’t know if he (Arbery) had a weapon or not.”
Both Brandeberry and Detective Parker Marcy testified that McMichael’s story changed after the shooting.
Glynn County police Officer Jeff Brandeberry told a jury that McMichael - one of three white men on trial for murder in the case - at first told him that Arbery had been recorded by security cameras “breaking in all these houses out here.”
“Well, he makes frequent trips to the neighborhood and gets caught on video cameras every third or fourth night breaking into places and no one’s been able to catch him,” McMichael told Brandeberry, who read in open court from a transcript of the conversation recorded by his body camera.
The officer said he spoke to McMichael at the scene of the shooting, with Arbery’s body lying under a sheet in the road nearby, as police first responded on Feb. 23, 2020.
McMichael’s account shifted when he spoke with a Glynn County detective at police headquarters late the same day. Whereas he’d first blamed the slain man for break ins at multiple houses, McMichael told Detective Parker Marcy the intruder had targeted a single home - one that was still under construction with no doors or windows.
Marcy testified that McMichael told him he had seen “two or three videos” that showed “this guy breaking into or being or wandering around into this house.”
McMichael also said he never saw Arbery commit a crime, according to CNN, which obviously doesn’t help the defense that relies on a repealed Civil War era law for citizen’s arrests. That law required reasonable suspicion of someone committing a felony before detaining them.
Arbery stopped at an unfinished house belonging to a neighbor named Larry English before he jogged by McMichael’s home which is further into the neighborhood. Security cameras installed in the property showed that Arbery never took anything, CNN reports, but somehow McMichael just had a hunch that Arbery was responsible for thefts that previously took place in the neighborhood.
The older McMichael even accused Arbery of stealing a gun belonging to his son Travis, who is also on trial, with no proof. He told Detective Marcy that the missing gun, which Arbery didn’t have, is why he armed himself.
According to CNN, Travis McMichael and Arbery encountered each other on the same property almost two weeks before the shooting on Feb. 11, 2020. The younger McMichael called 911 then and said that Arbery reached into his pocket and he assumed that the jogger must be armed.
A lot of fatal assumptions here.
Still, with all these fears and a oh-so-very-reasonable-decision to chase, hit Arbery with a car and shoot him, when McMichael called 911 on his son’s cellphone, he never used the words “citizen’s arrest” or “detain” or even mentioned why Arbery would be held for authorities.
Probably because jogging past someone’s house is not a crime.