Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers Attempted to Justify Shooting in Newly Released Body Cam Footage

The North Star is a network of Black and Latinx journalists and creators that provide daily news stories and podcasts with action steps that help you get involved. We speak truth to power without fear because our stories, our voices and our lives matter. Please consider becoming a member and enjoy exclusive benefits of our ad-free platform for as little as $5 a month.

Newly released body cam footage of the moments immediately after Ahmaud Arbery was shot show officers interacting with killers Gregory and Travis McMichael. The white father and son chased down the 25-year-old while he was out jogging, cornered him and fatally shot him on February 23.

Footage obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Glynn County Police show officers arriving on the scene and attending to Ahmaud, who was covered in his blood. Travis McMichael, who shot Ahmaud, attempts to justify his actions and is seen splattered with blood.

“Last thing I ever wanted to do in my life,” Travis tells a police officer. Travis and his father had chased Ahmaud in his pick-up truck because they allegedly believed Ahmaud was responsible for a series of break-ins in their neighborhood. “If he had stopped this wouldn’t have happened,” Travis continued.

The McMichaels were helped by their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, to trap Ahmaud as he merely went for his afternoon jog. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, another neighbor saw the chase and called 911 before Travis shot and killed Ahmaud.

Gregory McMichael can also be heard attempting to justify the slaying. “(Travis) had had no choice, man,” the retired investigator with the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office told officers.

The older McMichael told police that they attempted to get Ahmaud to stop and that he tried to run past them. That’s when the three trapped him between the McMichaels’ truck and Bryan’s car. Greg claims Ahmaud turned towards Travis and attempted to wrestle the shotgun away from him, causing Travis to shoot him.

However, it is clear that Gregory, who accused Ahmaud of frequently breaking into places in the neighborhood, did not regret the shooting. “To be a honest with you if I could’ve shot the guy I would’ve shot him myself,” he is heard telling officers, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Bryan shared a similar account to officers but when questioned, he said, “Should we have been chasing him? I don’t know.”

The video also shows that Gregory asked if his son had been handcuffed. An officer responded, “Why would he need cuffs?”

The three men were finally charged with murder almost three months after Ahmaud was killed in February. In a bond hearing for the McMichaels in November, Judge Timothy Walmsley noted that they could not know if Ahmaud was even responsible for the alleged break-ins.

“And that somehow resulted in individuals thinking it was appropriate to block that individual’s path of travel, shoulder a firearm in order to get him to stop,” the judge said. Walmsley added that evidence shows Gregory “was going to place the law in his own hands” and that he believed he could influence the investigation.

The McMichaels and Bryan were denied their petition for bond. The three men remain detained in Glynn County Jail as they await trial.

Response to New Footage

Attorneys working with Ahmaud’s family and his mother responded to the newly released footage. Attorney Ben Crump, told ABC News in a statement that the newly released footage contradicts Bryan’s initial claims that he was not involved in the shooting.

“With the murderous teamwork of Bryan and the McMichaels exposed for the world to see, we are confident that this will bring us one step closer to justice for the Arbery family,” Crump said.

The family’s lead counsel, S. Lee Merritt urged people to look at Bryan’s demeanor as he describes Ahmaud’s brutal murder to police. “Ahmaud’s body is just feet away from him still in the streets as he excitedly describes him desperately trying to get away,” Merritt said in a statement.

In her own statement about the body cam footage, Ahmaud’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, calls for the three men to be held accountable for their actions.

“This man stood feet away from where my son lay shot to death and seems to brag about his part,” she said, according to ABC News. “He and all involved must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.