Brunswick, GA – A special prosecutor presented evidence in a preliminary hearing for the men accused of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery on Thursday that showed the man who shot the the man called him a “f–king n—-r” as he stood over his dead body.
The testimony by lead Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Agent Richard Dial served to support murder charges against 34-year old Travis McMichael, his father 64-year-old Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan, CBS News reported.
Agent Dial testified that Bryan, who filmed Arbery’s shooting on his cell phone, told investigators he saw Travis McMichael use racial epithets while standing over Arbery’s body after he shot him three times.
The testimony served to undermine the McMichaels’ claim that Travis McMichael killed Arbery in self-defense, CBS News reported.
“I don’t think it was self-defense by Mr. McMichael. I think it was self-defense by Mr. Arbery,” Agent Dial testified, according to WAGA. “When he couldn’t get away, he chose to fight.”
Bryan’s claim that Travis McMichael used a racial slur against the man he had just shot will bolster the federal investigation into whether Arbery’s killers should be charged with a federal hate crime, since there is no hate crime law in Georgia.
Agent Dial also testified that investigators found racist messages Travis McMichael had sent on his phone before Arbery’s shooting.
“Investigators will be looking at evidence that suggests Ahmaud Arbery was killed because of his race, and a racial slur during or after the crime would be considered evidence of that,” law professor Kami Davis, the director of the criminal justice program at Wake Forest University, told CBS News.
The police report said the incident began when Arbery jogged past the McMichaels’ home on Feb. 23, the Associated Press reported.
The McMichaels told police afterwards that they thought Arbery was the suspect in several recent burglaries in the neighborhood, so they armed themselves and followed him.
The men jumped in their pickup truck and followed the 25 year old as he ran through the neighborhood.
Bryan, their neighbor, jumped in his own pickup truck and joined the hunt, according to CBS News.
Special Prosecutor Jesse Evans said the men effectively boxed in Arbery with their pickup trucks, forcing the encounter that followed.
Evans said Arbery was “was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed,” CBS News reported.
The video filmed by Bryan showed Arbery running up the middle of the residential road toward a white pickup truck that was stopped in the road ahead of him.
In the video, Arbery dodged to the right onto the grass to go around the stopped truck.
Yelling can be heard in the video for a second, and then a gunshot, just before Arbery reappeared in front of the truck.
The video showed Gregory McMichael standing up in the bed of the pickup with a gun in his hand.
Arbery appeared to engage Travis McMichael, who was holding a pump-action shotgun, in a struggle for the gun that drifted off camera for a split second.
While they were off-camera, Travis McMichael’s gun went off – a puff of smoke is visible on the left side of the screen that indicated where the gunshot came from.
The video showed Arbery and Travis McMichael veered back into the frame, still engaged in a struggle over the gun, and then there was a third gunshot.
Arbery took a couple steps away from Travis McMichael and collapsed face-first in the middle of the street, the video showed.
Gregory McMichael got down from the back of the pickup, gun in hand, and was walking toward where Arbery lay on the ground as the video ended.
That’s when Bryan told investigators Travis McMichael used the racial slur against the dying Arbery, CBS News reported.
The police report said Gregory McMichael claimed he and his son had called out to Arbery and told him they wanted to talk to him, the Associated Press reported.
Gregory McMichael told police that Arbery “began to violently attack” his son and then the two men fought over the shotgun.
The autopsy revealed that Arbery was shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the hand.
Toxicology results showed the slain man had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he was killed, according to CBS News.
No arrests were made for more than two months after the shooting, prompting outrage from Arbery’s family and community.
It wasn’t until after the video was released and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) got involved that anything happened.
Forty-eight hours later, both Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested for murder.
Since their arrests, a number of other videos have been released that allegedly showed Arbery trespassing in the home under construction in Satilla Shores.