BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Jury deliberations resumed for a second day Wednesday in the trial of the three white men charged with chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery, with jurors reviewing the cellphone video of the 25-year-old Black man being shot with a shotgun on a residential street in coastal Georgia.
The jury sent a note to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley soon after returning to court Wednesday morning asking to view two versions of the shooting video — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times apiece.
The jury returned to the courtroom to see the videos and listen again to the 911 call one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.
The disproportionately white jury received the case around midday Tuesday and spent over six hours deliberating before adjourning without a verdict in the trial of father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Ahmaud Arbery case
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
On the 911 call the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael tells an operator: “I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a Black male running down the street.”
He then starts shouting, apparently as Arbery is running toward the McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck coming up behind him: “Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!” Gunshots can be heard a few seconds later.
Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said Tuesday the real question is when Bryan knew the McMichaels were armed.
“When did Roddie know they intended to shoot Mr. Arbery? At that point, what could Mr. Bryan have done about it? Those were the three questions that I asked repeatedly,” Gough said.
Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his death leaked online two months later and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men. Each of them is charged with murder and other crimes.
Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.
Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.
All three men face up to life in prison if they are convicted.
‘We are promoting peace’
The Glynn Unified Command has a plan in place for whatever verdict the jurors reach, whenever it comes down.
“We’re preparing for an influx of people. It doesn’t matter which way the verdict goes, you can’t make everyone happy, so we are preparing for those contingencies, prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” said Capt. Jeremiah Bergquist of the Glynn County Police Department.
Bergquist said their main purpose is to protect the community, not only their public safety but also their constitutional rights, and he urged a message of peace.
“We are promoting peace. You can assemble, have that freedom of speech — and get your message out and do it peacefully, and that’s what we’ve been asking people to do and up to this point it has been great,” Bergquist said.
He said they’re monitoring social media and there are “no credible threats of civil unrest or violence.”
Many in the community gathered Tuesday evening for a vigil outside the courthouse. Faith leaders from various denominations led prayers for the families involved, the jury and the community at large.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said after deliberations began yesterday that she believes the men will be found guilty.
“I do think that we will reach a guilty verdict. God has brought us this far and He’s not going to fail us now. We will get justice for Ahmaud,” she said.
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said he was devastated by what he saw during closing arguments.
“I’m just thankful to God, that God showed us everything, showed us all the evidence to convict these men. Like Wanda said, God’s brought us too far to leave us now,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office said if a verdict is not reached Wednesday, deliberations will continue Friday and Saturday as necessary.
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