The trial involving the death of Ahmaud Arbery continued on Wednesday as the defense made its case to the jury.
Travis McMichael, 35, one of three white men facing charges, took the stand at the trial in Georgia.
McMichael is facing several charges, including murder and aggravated assault, for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, in February 2020. He and the two other men could spend their lives in prison.
In February 2020, Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, grabbed guns and chased Arbery after he ran past their home. Their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, followed after and recorded video on his phone of the event. Arbery was shot by Travis McMichael after a confrontation between the two.
“I want to give my side of the story,” McMichael said on Wednesday.
As reported by The Associated Press, “[McMichael] said he first ran into Arbery at the house under construction on Feb. 11, 2020. McMichael said he was driving when he saw a man ‘lurking’ and ‘creeping’ outside the home. He turned his vehicle to point his headlights on Arbery, he said, and the man tried to hide behind a portable toilet at the construction site.”
“He comes out and pulls up his shirt, and goes to reach in his pocket or waistband area,” McMichael said.
“It freaked me out,” said McMichael, who after that went to his house and called 911. “Once I realized what’s going on, he’s doing this, I’m under the assumption he’s armed. I jumped back into the vehicle and he runs into the house.”
“McMichael told defense attorneys he moved into the neighborhood in 2018 and grew concerned about car break-ins, ‘suspicious persons’ and the theft of his pistol,” reports USA Today of the trial. “McMichael said he would often discuss crime with neighbors, some of whom began installing surveillance cameras on their houses, and his family, including father Greg McMichael.”
On Wednesday, McMichael gave an emotional testimony, admitting on the stand, “I shot him.” When asked why he shot him, McMichael said, “He had my gun. He struck me, it was obvious that he was … attacking me, that if he [would] have [gotten] the shotgun from me, then it was a … life or death situation.”
McMichael appeared to choke up a few times and wiped his eyes after saying it “was a blur” after he realized Arbery was dead and the police were there.
The shooting didn’t receive much national focus until a short video was released of the encounter in May 2020.
The prosecution rested its case earlier this week after reportedly calling forward 23 witnesses over eight days. The jury was shown pictures of Arbery’s shirt, which was completely red, presumably from his blood, as well as close-up photos of Arbery’s face.
A forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy on Arbery testified that he was shot at close range.
The defense is expected to argue that the case is one of self-defense and the three men were trying to make a citizen’s arrest.
At the time of the shooting, a citizens arrest law in Georgia permitted people to “arrest” a person under certain conditions if they committed a crime. Since the video of Arbery’s shooting was released, that law has since been repealed and replaced.