A man who helped chase down Ahmaud Arbery, the jogger killed in Georgia earlier this year, said the shooter called Arbery a ‘‘f---ing n-----’’ as he lay dying in the road, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified Thursday.
A Glynn County judge will determine if there’s enough evidence for the state to proceed with the trial of Greg McMichael, 64, his 34-year-old son, Travis, and their neighbor William ‘‘Roddie’’ Bryan. The three men charged with felony murder last month in the shooting death of Arbery, 25, appeared Thursday via video camera in a probable cause hearing.
Prosecutors told the court they would show Arbery was ‘‘chased, hunted down and ultimately executed’’ by the three men after an altercation outside Brunswick, Ga., on Feb. 23.
A viral video that surfaced of Arbery’s death last month fueled widespread protests over racial justice and the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd now sweeping the country. Even before Floyd’s death, activists in Georgia took to the streets, angered that it took 74 days and the video of Ahmaud’s death to compel authorities to arrest the father and son now suspected of murdering him.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case with District Attorney Tom Durden of the neighboring Atlantic Judicial Circuit, after District Attorney George Barnhill, a previous prosecutor on the case, had argued that the suspects’ actions were lawful because they were making a citizen’s arrest of a man they believed to be involved in area burglaries, and Arbery was shot in self-defense.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge Richard Dial, who was called as a witness by the prosecution, spent several hours Thursday morning giving a narrative of the events of Feb. 23, as the father and son armed themselves and chased Arbery through the Satilla Shores, a marshy enclave near his home where he often jogged. Greg and Travis McMichael’s attorneys have told reporters that more exculpatory details will come out in court proceedings.
On Feb. 23, Gregory McMichael saw Arbery running through the neighborhood and suspected that he was responsible for a string of recent burglaries, Dial said.
He called for his son, Travis McMichael, and the pair hopped into a pickup truck and gave chase - the son armed with a rifle, the father carrying a .357 magnum. Soon after, they were joined by a neighbor, Bryan, who helped corner Arbery and later recorded his death on his cellphone camera. None of the men called 911 before pursuing Arbery, Dial said.
McMichael told authorities that he shouted at Arbery: ‘‘Stop, stop! We want to talk to you.’’ Then, according to their statements, they pulled up beside him and Travis McMichael got out of the truck. The younger McMichael and Arbery struggled over the rifle on the street, before three shots rang out.
In his testimony, Dial clarified aspects of the case that have been debated among prosecutors and people across the country.
He said that Arbery was shot after trying to evade Bryan and the McMichaels for several minutes and only engaged after he appeared to have run out of options to flee, Dial said. He also gave testimony that dispute Bryan’s version of events — that he was just a witness and a bystander.