Travis McMichael admits Ahmaud Arbery had no weapon, never threatened him

On Thursday, the man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery testified that Arbery, 25, did not pull out a weapon or threaten him.

Travis McMichael, the gunman, acknowledged that Arbery said more than once that he did not want to talk to him after McMichael and his father pulled up beside him in a pickup truck.

The McMichaels and a neighbor of theirs are all on trial for Arbery’s murder, and their defense attorneys have argued that the group was lawfully trying to make a citizen’s arrest after suspecting Arbery of committing a crime.

The younger McMichael told jurors that Arbery’s demeanor raised suspicions when he first pulled alongside him in his truck, saying he approached Arbery after neighbors said something happened down the road, and he wanted to ask Arbery about it. After McMichael told him the cops were on the way, he said Arbery started to run. 

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked McMichael if Arbery ever threatened him, reached into his pockets, or brandished any weapons. “No,” McMichael replied. “He just ran?” Dunikoski asked. “Yes, he was just running,” McMichael said. He also testified that he never told Arbery “you’re under arrest” because he “didn’t have time, I was still trying to get him to stop.”

Under defense questioning on Wednesday, McMichael explained to jurors that he made a “life-or-death” decision after Arbery attacked him and grabbed his gun. “He struck me, he had my gun. It was obvious he was attacking me. This is a life-or-death situation. I’m going to have to stop him from doing this,” he testified.

McMichael, his father Gregory, and their neighbor, Willaim “Roddie” Bryan, are all on trial for Arbery’s murder; The McMichaels are both accused of arming themselves to chase down Arbery in their truck after he ran past their home. Bryan followed the two in his own truck, and he filmed the younger McMichael shooting Arbery with his shotgun at close range.

All three men have pleaded not guilty to the murder and other charges, and the defense holds that Travis McMichael fired in self-defense after Arbery made a play for his gun.

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