Co-defendant testifies Ahmaud Arbery did not threaten him

Travis McMichael, one of the three white men on trial for the February 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, said Thursday that the 25-year-old Black man never threatened him before the final altercation in which he was killed.

McMichael's comments came during a cross-examination by the prosecution. 

McMichael, his father Greg and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are all facing counts of felony murder.

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Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski grilled the younger McMichael on the events of Feb. 23, 2020, and his mindset that led him to follow Arbery in the first place.

Travis McMichael testified that he believed Arbery to be the person who he had seen coming out of a house under construction in his Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood several days prior.

That house had recently suffered multiple break-ins, though security footage shows that Arbery was not the only person who had been seen around the property.

On that day, he explained that one of his neighbors signaled to him something had happened down the road. His father added that he believed it to be the same person Travis had previously encountered coming out of the property.

Travis then grabbed his shotgun, got in his truck with his father and pulled up beside Arbery, who was jogging at the time.

“He did not threaten me verbally,” McMichael told Dunikoski.

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“He just ran?” Dunikoski questioned further.

“Yes, he was just running,” McMichael responded.

Dunikowski also cited the Fifth Amendment to McMichael, saying “You know that no one has to talk to anyone they don't want to talk to, right?”

McMichael acknowledged this was true.

Dunikowski also poked at the inconsistencies in McMichael’s testimony and statement he gave to police hours after he fatally shot Arbery.

McMichael pointed multiple times to the fact that the experience was “traumatic.”

“I just killed a man, I had blood on me still,” McMichael said.

Thursday marked McMichael’s second day of testimony. On Wednesday, he spent multiple hours on the stand recounting his side of the story to his defense attorney, describing the final moments before he shot and killed Arbery as a “life or death” situation.

Travis told police that Arbery, who was running in the direction of the McMichaels after being caught between their truck and Bryan’s vehicle, didn’t stop after McMichael pointed his shotgun at him and eventually grabbed at the firearm.

However, during the cross-examination, Travis said that he “honestly cannot remember,” if Arbery had hold of the gun or not. 

“It happened so fast and trying to recall everything, I've obviously missed every minute detail,” he said moments later.

Travis McMichael is the first of the three men to testify in the trial, which is now in its second full week.