Ahmaud Arbery trial: It is ‘asinine’ to say slaying was self-defense

Morning In America

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — The lawyer for Ahmaud Arbery’s family says it is “asinine” for the three white men charged with chasing and killing the 25-year-old Black man to say it was self-defense.

The fatal shooting of Arbery on a residential street outside the port city of Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020, sparked a national outcry after a graphic cellphone video of the killing leaked online two months later. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are charged with murder and other crimes in the 25-year-old Black man’s death.

“It is asinine to say self-defense when you chase a young man for over two miles, who’s running for his life,” said Ben Crump. “Then you shoot and kill him with a shotgun, no less, and you say it was self-defense. It doesn’t pass the common sense test and it is an insult to all of us who respect the dignity of human life.”

Attorneys continued questioning potential jurors Tuesday, but several jury pool members said they knew the defendants or others close to the case. By afternoon, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley had not declared anyone qualified to remain in the final group from which the jury will be chosen. At least 14 pool members have been dismissed since jury selection began Monday afternoon.

Defense attorneys insist the three men committed no crimes. Greg McMichael told police they believed Arbery was a burglar after security cameras previously recorded him entering a nearby home under construction. He said Travis McMichael fired in self-defense after Arbery punched him and tried to grab his weapon.

Prosecutors say Arbery was merely jogging when the McMichaels grabbed guns and chased him in a pickup truck. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded the now-infamous cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun.

“He was being pursued for jogging while Black. He committed no crime, he did nothing wrong,” Crump said. “And so the family’s just outraged and people of good character are outraged when they watch this video and tried to hear these explanations of how this was justified killing this young black man just for jogging and exercising.”

Crump, who was the lawyer for George Floyd’s family as well as Trayvon Martin’s, sat down with NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert. You can watch the full “Morning in America” interview in the player above.

Jury duty notices were mailed to 1,000 people in coastal Glynn County, with 600 ordered to report Monday and the remainder on deck for next week if needed. The huge jury pool underscores how Arbery’s slaying dominated the news, social media feeds and workplace chatter locally.

Court officials have said jury selection could take more than two weeks, and the judge expressed frustration Tuesday over the slow pace. His initial schedule had called for attorneys to question two groups of potential jurors, with 20 people apiece, each day. But he sent the second group home Tuesday afternoon, with more than half of the morning panel still waiting to be questioned.

“I do not have the ability to just store people or keep them longer than planned,” the judge said, adding later: “At the rate we’re going, all these plans we have to move these panels through are not going to work.”

The court has not identified the race of any of the prospective jurors.

Arbery’s killing stoked outrage in 2020 during a period of national protests over racial injustice. More than two months passed before the McMichaels and Bryan were charged and jailed — only after the video of the shooting leaked online and state investigators took over the case from local police.

Crump said he is still hopeful for a fair trial.

“We know from what happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with George Floyd that you can get a fair and impartial jury to be able to hear the evidence and render a verdict,” Crump said. “The most important and compelling piece of evidence is that video, the video is something that lets us see what happened. Nobody has to tell us what happened. We get to see it with our own eyes.”

Investigators have testified that they found no evidence of crimes by Arbery, who was unarmed, in the Satilla Shores subdivision. Jury selection is expected to resume Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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