Newly released body camera footage from a police officer who responded to the scene where Ahmaud Arbery killed by a group of racist, white vigilantes revealed that one of the accused murderers shamelessly tried to blame the 21-year-old Black jogger for provoking his own shooting in rural Georgia earlier this year.
On the video, which was viewed and reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Travis McMichael is seen “splattered with blood” while speaking to the unidentified Glynn County police officer on Feb. 23 in the coastal town of Brunswick
Compared to the full video from the shooting that was filmed by accused murderer William “Roddie” Bryan and leaked to the media back in May — more than seven months before the newly bodycam footage was released Monday — it is now more than clear that McMichael was telling a bald-faced lie about the fatal encounter provoked by him and his father.
It was a lie that his father, Gregory McMichael, eagerly co-signed. The elder McMichael even suggested to the officer that he regretted not being the one to shoot Arbery over unsubstantiated claims of burglary inspired by their racial profiling of the jogger.
“(Travis) had no choice, man” Gregory McMichael told the cop before adding later: “To be honest with you if I could’ve shot the guy I would’ve shot him myself.” He said without proof that Arbery made “frequent trips to the neighborhood … breaking into places.”
The bodycam footage shows Bryan apparently pretending he had second thoughts surrounding the matter.
”Should we have been chasing him?” he asked. “I don’t know.”
The new video provides some context as to how it took a report in the New York Times to expose an apparent incestuous coverup by local law enforcement, with which Gregory McMichael had a long career.
It also cemented Bryan’s homicidal role in the shooting, according to Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represents Arby’s family.
“After publicly absolving himself of having any part in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, this newly released body camera footage confirms what we had long suspected about William ‘Roddie’ Bryan,” Crump said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “The footage clearly documents that Bryan used his truck to block Ahmaud from escaping the McMichaels. 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.”
Arbery was out for one of his routine jogs in Brunswick when the McMichaels saw him, grabbed their guns, jumped in a pickup truck and drove after Arbery before pulling in front of him. Bryan’s vehicle trailed the McMichaels and, while filming the whole thing, he used his truck to trap Arbery in between the two vehicles. As Arbery tried to run past, Travis McMichael got out and shot him in broad daylight in the middle of a road.
The McMichaels were finally arrested on May 7, nearly three months after they killed Arbery. Bryan was arrested two weeks later. All three were indicted by a grand jury in September on malice and felony murder charges as well as aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
In case there was any confusion about how the McMichaels and Bryan feel about Black people, testimony from a bond hearing in November confirmed the three suspects frequently exchanged text messages replete with racist slurs.
Bryan, in trying to distance himself from his co-defendants, told investigators that Travis McMichael called Arbery a “fucking nigger” after shooting the jogger three times at close range with a shotgun. However, a judge cited phone records when said Bryan also used the N-word and other racial slurs frequently.
Multiple prosecutors recused themselves from the murder case over shady links to the accused killers that presented conflicts of interest.
Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself after it was revealed that Gregory McMichael worked for more than 20 years with her office as an investigator.
Johnson’s voluntary recusal led to the case being assigned to Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill, who eventually also had to recuse himself after Arbery’s mom, Wanda Cooper, found out that Barnhill’s son works in the Brunswick district attorney’s office, which had previously employed Gregory McMichael.
Then came Joyette Holmes, a Black woman who was also the district attorney in Cobb County, a former judge and a Republican. She was appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, prompting suspicion that she may have been hand-picked to prosecute the case because of her political ties and her apparent loyalty to the governor, who has emerged as a contemptuous figure in the Black community from both rigging his election in 2018 as well as reacting recklessly to the coronavirus crisis in Georgia.
But Holmes lost her bid for re-election in November to Flynn Broady, who inherited the prosecution of Arbery’s case.