Ahmaud Arbery murder trial: Officer testifies that Gregory McMichael never used the words ‘detain’ or ‘arrest’ in the interview

Glynn County Police Officer Jeff Brandeberry testified on the third day of the trial against three white men – McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. – who is accused of chasing and killing Arbery in southeastern Georgia in February 2020.

On Tuesday, Brandeberry – one of the officers who originally interviewed Gregory McMichael on the spot – testified that Gregory McMichael seemed “animated” and “pretty amplified” when he arrived.

“Did he ever tell you while you were talking to him that he was trying to arrest a citizen?” asked prosecutor Linda Dunikoski Brandeberry.

“No, ma’am,” replied Brandeberry, the state’s fifth witness in the trial.

On the day of the shooting, Brandeberry was a patrol officer on his second day back after rejoining the force. He was responding to a separate call for domestic violence in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick when he was redirected to the scene of the shooting by Arbery.

Brandeberry was commissioned to interview Gregory McMichael. He testified about what McMichael told him during his on-site interview using transcripts from his body camera footage. Some of the footage was shown by the prosecution and the defense.

“He (Gregory McMichael) had blood on, I think it was his left hand,” Brandeberry said.

Gregory McMichael explained that blood by saying that after Arbery was shot and still breathing while lying face down, McMichael pulled one of Arbery’s arms out to check if he had a weapon, Brandeberry testified.

Brandeberry also testified about what Gregory McMichael said about what led to the shooting. McMichael said he saw a black man run past his house, the officer testified.

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According to his transcript, McMichael told Brandeberry: “This guy comes with his ass down the street. I’m talking about dead ends, he’s not jogging.” He told Brandeberry he was running into his house.

McMichael went on to say, “So I pull ass into my bedroom to get (a) .357 Magnum, adding, ‘I take no chances,'” according to the transcript.

Brandeberry testified that McMichael told him he was yelling at Arbery, “Stop, stop. I want to talk to you.” Once he caught up with Arbery in his truck and shouted, “Stop. Damn it.”

While redirecting the prosecutor, Brandeberry clarified that he could not testify to how many times Gregory McMichael shouted, “Stop. Damn it.”

Arbery was out for a run on February 23, 2020 near Brunswick, Georgia when he was shot and killed. Video of the episode surfaced more than two months later, sparking widespread outrage and demonstrations just weeks before police killing George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a summer of nationwide protests against racial injustice.

Bryan, who was recording a video of the shooting, allegedly hit Arbery with his truck after joining McMichaels in the hunt for Arbery. The three men were allowed to leave the place and were only arrested after the video of the shooting became public.

McMichaels and Bryan are charged with malice and felony murder in connection with the murder. They are also charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Everyone has pleaded not guilty.
Glynn County Police Officer Jeff Brandeberry is sitting at the witness stand Tuesday in Brunswick, Georgia.

Gregory McMichael said he would have shot Arbery, the officer testified

When asked how many shots were fired, McMichael told the officer there were “two shots,” according to Brandeberry.

“If I could have gotten a shot at the guy, I would have shot him myself, because that was him, he was so violent …” McMichael said according to the transcript before the conversation was interrupted by a spectator.

At that point, McMichael began talking to a civilian who was at the scene, Brandeberry testified. That conversation was captured by his body camera. The unnamed person inquired about who was shot.

The unidentified man then asked if Travis McMichael was okay.

“He’s upset as hell,” Gregory McMichael said according to the transcript. “He attacked my son.”

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“He (Arbery) came after him,” McMichael continues, according to the transcript. “He was trying to get rid of the damn shotgun.”

During cross-examination, Gregory McMichael’s attorney, Franklin Hogue, read from the transcript that Gregory McMichael believed Arbery had broken into houses in the neighborhood.

“This guy that we’ve seen on video several times breaking into these other houses, he’s coming with ass down the street. I mean, he’s hooked up,” McMichael said according to the transcript.

Prosecutors also went through photos taken by police of Travis McMichael right after the shooting. Travis McMichael is shown with blood on his arms and shirt, with blood splatter also on jeans and face.

At a lighter moment in the beginning of his testimony, Dunikoski asked Brandeberry if this was the first time he had testified before a jury.

“Not with a jury. No, ma’am. Definitely not on TV,” Brandeberry replied, while some in the courtroom quietly laughed.

Jury members, all wearing face masks, appeared to be listening intently to Brandeberry’s testimony, according to the pool.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Arbery; Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father and Leigh McMichael, mother and wife of Travis and Gregory McMichael, were in the courtroom, according to a pool reporter in the room.

CNN’s Jason Hanna, Ralph Ellis, Dakin Andone and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.

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