Ahmaud Arbery (pictured) was chased and shot Feb. 23, 2020, after he was spotted running in the suburban neighborhood of Satilla Shores, located just outside the port city of Brunswick
Grainy video footage of Ahmaud Arbery roaming around a partly-constructed house at night five months before he was shot dead was played in front of the jury Thursday as the trial over his death entered its fifth day.
It is the same home the 25-year-old was later spotted wandering into that sparked the deadly chase by ex-cop Gregory McMichael, 65, and son Travis, 35, through the predominantly white neighborhood of Satilla Shores in the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020.
Arbery is seen in one 45-second clip near the back of a ‘dream second home’ being constructed by Larry English, 51 – located two houses away from the McMichaels.
Jurors were shown the security footage as they watched a four-hour recorded deposition by construction boss English, who is terminally ill.
The jury heard Arbery was filmed at the partly-constructed detached waterfront house on five occasions in the months leading to his death.
English said he installed eight cameras at the site in 2019 after reports of people entering. They were tripped remotely by motion sensors with images relayed to his cell phone.
Arbery was captured roaming around the home at night on October 25, 2019, November 18, December 17, and again on February 11, 2021 and then during the day of February 23 in color when he was chased and killed. English called 911 on October 25 and on the other occasions, apart from February 23.
But Arbery was not the only nocturnal visitor to the house, the court was shown. On November 17, a while couple was caught on Mr English’s cameras approaching the front of the home, although there was no footage of them inside. The property owner called 911.
In none of the videos as Arbery seen taking anything or interfering with anything. Mr English told the court he did not believe anything was stolen during the young black man’s visits.
In the November 18 footage, Arbery is seen walking around the garage section of the home, the same place he was spotted in the December 17 video. The house did not have any panels for walls, just upright timbers.
In the December 17 video, is also seen heading out of the front, strolling on to the patch of grass near the road and then running off in shorts and a t-shirt. In the February 11 footage he again just wanders around inside the house framework.
The jury saw him on the day he was killed in much clearer images. Arbery walks in, wearing a white t-shirt, gray looking shorts and with a green bandana around his neck. There is a white truck in a driveway and Arbery is seen walking up to the front of the property and past a security camera on the outside of the building.
Internal cameras then pick him up strolling around inside in an area Mr English identified to the jury as his RV garage. He then goes into the car garage.
Mr English told the jury he bought the house site as a vacant lot four or five years ago to build a ‘dream home’ because he has a terminal illness. He kept a camper there for when he stayed and the site was full of tools and building materials plus a boat. None of this was disturbed by Arbery.
Arbery, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, strolls around the rear of the waterfront property and is last seen heading on to a metal boat ramp. There is a boat nearby and a tool box, but he does not take anything.
Ahmaud Arbery is seen above at the same home on February 23, 2020 shortly before he was killed
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski shows a video of Ahmaud Arbery walking through a house under construction during testimony on Tuesday
Prosecutor Paul Camarillo, who was conducting the deposition, played a recording of the 911 call English placed after he became aware of a possible trespasser.
‘I have a house under construction… I got a camera system there. I got a trespasser there. He’s a colored guy, tattooed down both arms. And he’s just kind of wandering around,’ he says.
‘Send someone out for me please. He’s got curly messed up hair. He’s maybe drunk or on drugs.’
Arbery was identified in the deposition by Camarillo.
English agreed that there was no evidence Arbery was drunk and that he could have been feeling his way through the dark.
The jury saw a second video of Arbery at the property on November 18, 2019 when he again wandered around at night in the rear of the home and near the racked boat. He did not take anything.
The latest development came a day after Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones launched a blistering court steps attack on the lead detective sent to investigate her son’s death.
Wanda Cooper-Jones said Stephan Lowrie, who took the stand at her son’s trial Wednesday, told the nearly all-white jury only half the story – and called testimony of her boy being trapped like a rat ‘disturbing.’
The footage, taken on October 25, 2019, was played as the jury watched a four-hour recorded deposition from the owner of the partly-constructed home Larry English (right)
Travis McMichael (left), Gregory McMichael (center) and William Bryan Jr. (right) have all pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment
‘Investigator Lowrie was the individual who called me on that Sunday afternoon about 6:30pm and told me that Ahmaud had committed a burglary,’ she said.
‘He told me that Ahmaud had committed a burglary, he was confronted by the homeowner and Ahmaud was killed. I listened to investigator Lowrie today for about three hours. He did not tell the court that Ahmaud had committed a burglary. In fact he said nothing about a burglary.
‘But instead he called me, and told me that my son (was) deceased because he had committed a burglary. That was not acceptable.’
The grieving mom went on to say: ‘Ahmaud ran, Ahmaud was chased, Ahmaud was killed and then Ahmaud was lied on.’
Former cop Gregory McMichael described to Detective Sgt Rod Nohilly the young black man’s tragic final moments while running through the predominantly white Satilla Shores neighborhood of the small coastal city of Brunswick, southern Georgia.
Detective Nohilly told the court he interviewed McMichael after the shooting. In a transcript read out to the court, McMichael told the officer: ‘He was trapped like a rat. I think he was wanting to flee and he realized that something, you know, he was not going to get away.’
The McMichael’s had grabbed guns and chased 25-year-old Arbery in their white pick-up truck because they believed the jogger might have been responsible for local break-ins, their defense has said.
Accused neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan also gave chase in his Chevrolet Silverado truck – and filmed the shocking video footage on his iPhone8 of Arbery being shot, allegedly by Travis.
Bryan angled his truck three times to cut off Arbery, but denied striking the running man (Pictured: Image from Twitter video purporting to show Ahmaud Arbery stumbling and falling to the ground after being shot by Travis McMichael)
Gregory McMichael (left) allegedly told police that he, his son (right) and their neighbor had Ahmaud Arbery (pictured on the pavement) ‘trapped like a rat,’ noting that the jogger ‘knew he wasn’t going to get away’
Gregory McMichael, 65, has said he and Travis had shouted for Arbery to stop. He told trial witness Detective Nohilly: ‘He was much faster than Travis would ever be.
‘He had opportunity to flee further you know. We had chased him around the neighborhood a bit but he wasn’t winded at all. I mean this guy was, he was in good shape.’
The pair began their pursuit after Arbery was spotted in a partially-constructed house on their street – which had been the subject of thefts and in which a black man had been there videoed before.
Arbery was inside the house for a short while before resuming his run in the direction of the McMichael home on the same street.
Gregory McMichael told Nohilly during an interview shortly after Arbery was shot dead: ‘When he came past my house. He met the description of the video I had seen being in there (the house).
‘White t-shirt, short pants plus he was hauling ass. And you know this, he was running like people don’t run normally. He wasn’t out for a Sunday jog. He was getting the hell out of there.
‘And there was no hesitation on his part when he came to Travis. I mean, I think he was, his intention was to grab that gun and probably shoot Travis. In my mind, that’s what I saw.
Accused William ‘Roddie’ Bryan (pictured in court Tuesday) told police he wished he had struck Ahmaud Arbery with his pickup truck because it ‘might have took him out and not get him shot,’ his murder trial heard Wednesday
‘And with that in mind, if he had gotten that shotgun, and there was any separation between Travis and him I was the one to cap his **s.’
Earlier, the court heard a 911 call made by a breathless Travis on the evening of February 11, 2021 – 12 days before Arbery was killed.
McMichael was breathing heavily throughout the six-minute call after telling the operator he had ‘caught a guy running into a house being built’ who he believed could be armed.
He said he saw the man and ‘when I turned around he took off into the house’.
Panting heavily as he spoke, he continued: ‘Black male, red shirt. He is in the house.
‘I am sitting right across the street in my truck watching the house. He reached into his picket. I don’t know whether he is armed or not. It looked like he was acting like he was. Be mindful of that.’
Travis stayed outside the house until police arrived, according to the taped call. It was not disclosed in court what happened after that – and Arbery’s name was not mentioned in relation to the call in court.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton (pictured Wednesday with attorney Ben Crump, Arbery’s parents and their lawyers) led a prayer vigil outside the courthouse demanding justice for the jogger in a killing he described as a ‘lynching in the 21st century’
Arbery’s devastated mother Wanda Cooper-Jones (pictured) emerged from court later Wednesday after the trial convened for the day and branded the earlier testimony of her son being trapped like a rat as ‘disturbing’
Bryan told police he wished he had struck Arbery with his pickup truck because it ‘might have took him out and not get him shot,’ the trial heard yesterday.
He said he angled his truck three times to cut off Arbery, alleging that the jogger had tried to open the door but denied striking the running man.
‘I probably got passed him a little bit and he comes up on me and I could see him in my mirror and he was coming for the door – and I see his hands on right behind the door,’ Bryan, 52, said, according to an interview transcript former Glynn County Police investigator Stephan Lowrie read in court.
He continued: ‘I didn’t hit him. Wish I would have. Might have took him out and not get him shot.’
The jury of 11 white people and one black person heard Bryan describe the last few moments of ‘confronted’ Arbery’s life, as recorded in his interview with Lowrie.
Bryan ‘joined in’ the chase of the young black man after spotting him running while he was working on his porch at around 1pm, the court heard.
‘I was on the front porch of the house, looked up and see a black guy running down the road,’ he said.
Former Glynn County investigator Stephan Lowrie testifies Wednesday at Arbery trial
The former investigator told the court that Bryan told him he saw a truck following Arbery. After that ‘he said Ya’ll got him?, like a question’, added Lowrie.
Asked by prosecutor Larissa Ollivierre if he said that to the ‘black guy’ or the truck, Lowrie said: ‘To the truck.’
Lowrie said Bryan then ‘went to his truck to assist… and kind of joined in’. The former cop added: ‘He sat there and kind of assessed and waited for Mr Arbery to come back towards him.’
Bryan angled his truck at Arbery three times during the pursuit, the court was told. But Arbery continued to run and gave Bryan the slip.
‘At this point I got turned round good,’ said Bryan in the interview with Lowrie, according to the transcript the former officer read in court. Bryan said he rounded a corner ‘enough to see the black guy was right there, but really wasn’t running any more.
‘It looked like at this point, I’d say he’d just had enough of the running. He was confronted.’
The defendants’ lawyers have said their clients were trying to make a lawful citizens arrest by chasing Arbery.
However, Lowrie told the court Bryan did not say anything in his interview about seeing Arbery committing a crime before he jumped in his truck.
Ms Ollivierre asked the former officer: ‘What if anything did Mr Bryan say about arresting or telling Ahmaud he was under arrest for criminal trespass?’
Lowrie replied: ‘He didn’t.’
The ex-cop also said Bryan did not mention anything in his interview about telling Arbery he was under arrest for loitering or burglary.
Ms Ollivierre asked Lowrie: ‘Did Mr Bryan ever tell Ahmaud during that chase that he was under arrest for anything?’ Lowrie replied: ‘No, not that I was made aware of.’
The court also heard Gregory McMichael’s recount of Arbery’s final moments, as described to Detective Sgt. Rod Nohilly during an interview conducted at police headquarters a few hours after the shooting.
Matt Albenze, a neighbor of the McMichaels, told the court Wednesday morning that he was outside his home chopping wood when he spotted Arbery in the partially-finished house.
The owner Larry English had previously shown him security video before of a black man on the property at night, but there was no confirmation this was Arbery.
‘I noticed Mr. Arbery standing in the front yard of that house, just looking around,’ he told the court.
‘What came to mind was Mr. English’s video. He then spotted Arbery through a window of the house.
Albenze said he grabbed a 9mm pistol and went into the street, then called the local non-emergency police line for assistance.
On the call, Albenze explained he had seen a man on the construction site and added ‘he’s running around here’. The operator said she was sending assistance.
The neighbor then walked in the direction of McMichaels’ home a short distance away and told the court he said ‘there he goes’ while making a forward arm motion. But he added this was a general reaction, not a communication to the two accused.
Albenze said he then walked home. But added: ‘After a few minutes I heard gunshots. I got my bicycle and rode down to the corner. I saw a police car, I saw Mr. Arbery laying on the street, I saw Greg and Travis there. It was a kind of shocking scene.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton – joined by attorney Ben Crump, Arbery’s parents and their lawyers – led a prayer vigil outside the courthouse Wednesday demanding justice for the jogger in a killing he described as a ‘lynching in the 21st century.’
He also criticized the jury seated for the racially-charged trial, echoing prosecutors’ claims that it was disproportionately white.
‘It’s an insult to the intelligence of the American people,’ Sharpton said. ‘If you can count to 12 and only get to one that’s black, you know something’s wrong.’
Gregory McMichael – an ex-Glynn County cop and former investigator with the local district attorney’s office – 35-year-old Travis McMichael and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52, all face nine charges from the killing on February 23 last year. These are malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. All have pleaded not guilty.