The trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery ended on Wednesday afternoon when a jury found all three defendants guilty on multiple counts.
William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., Gregory McMichael, and his son Travis McMichael were found guilty of felony murder and other charges for their roles in the incident that led to Arbery’s death.
In this trial, each defendant faced 9 charges, including four counts of felony murder, malice murder, 2 counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal contempt to commit a felony.
Travis McMichael was convicted of malice murder and multiple counts of felony murder.
The Arbery shooting death gained national attention last year after video of the shooting, that was recorded by one of the defendants with his cell phone, was sent around the Internet.
During the trial, the prosecution argued that all three white defendants were guilty of an unjustified, racially motivated attack on Arbery who was then a 25-year-old black man who was running through the neighborhood after he was spotted entering private property at a time it was reported that a rash of burglaries took place.
The defendants argued that they were acting in self defense as they were doing a citizen’s arrest when Arbery tried to take the gun away from Travis and that’s when Travis shot and killed him.
At that time, Georgia law stipulated that a citizen’s arrest was legal so long as the citizen making the arrest observed the suspect committing a serious crime and if the suspect was trying to make an escape. The statute has since been repealed. Even so, many have stated that the situation in the Arbery case in no way justified the defendant’s actions.
The jury determined that the McMichaels and their neighbor instigated the incident that led to violence by unjustly chasing after Arbery and ipso facto they couldn’t claim self defense.
The father, Gregory McMichael, told his son, Travis McMichael, that he saw Arbery enter a vacant construction site and determined that Abery must have been the person responsible for the burglaries in their neighborhood in recent weeks prior to that day.
Both McMichaels grabbed their guns and took off in their pickup truck to chase down Arbery. They also alerted their neighbor William Bryan, who followed them during the pursuit and took video of the incident on his cellphone. That’s the video that went around the web.
As seen in the video, the three defendants caught up to Arbery and confronted him. The 25-year-old Abery was seen running around the truck just prior to a struggle that ensued and that’s when Arbery reached for the rifle and Travis fired off three rounds at Arbery, killing him.
Police came to the scene and at first did not arrest or file charges against the three men. They went two months before the video footage taken by Bryan was leaked at the request of Travis’s father, who thought the video footage would make his son look better. But it had the opposite effect and ignited a national outcry for justice, which led to charges being filed against the three defendants.
On Tuesday, the lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said during her closing arguments, “You can’t claim self-defense if you are the unjustified aggressor,” adding, “Who started this? It wasn’t Ahmaud Arbery.”
Attorneys for the defense argued that Travel McMichael was given no choice when Arbery tried to rip the rifle away from him and that he felt he had to fire.
Though our disgraceful media created yet another racial narrative for this case, the prosecution stayed away from using that angle to the jury during the trial. Though, in the last days of the trial, the prosecutor did say that the defendants went after Arbery “because he was a black man running down the street.”
The three defendants are now waiting for a sentencing hearing for their convictions. They are all facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
I can understand why they chased him down, but they should have called and waited for the police to arrive. There was no urgent need to draw a gun on Arbery, as there were three of them and one of him. The whole thing is tragic, as there is now a young man who lost his life and three others who are about to spend the rest of their lives in prison over a vacant construction site.