After being accused of unjustly murdering an unarmed Black jogger named Ahmaud Arbery, Travis McMichael took the witness stand to tell "his side of the story."
“I want to get my side of the story," McMichael told attorney Kevin Gogh.
"I want to explain what happened and to be able to say what happened from the way I seen it.”
During his testimony, McMichael and defense attorneys spoke about a number of things including his time in the Coast Guard and his relationship with his parents. One of the key points of his testimony revolved around the state of the Satilla Shores neighborhood leading up to Arbery's death. McMichael told defense attorneys that he had grown concerned about car break-ins, thefts and "suspicious persons" in the neighborhood. In his words, the neighborhood was "on edge." As a result, McMichael says he spoke to several of his neighbors about crime in the area and many of them told him that they installed security cameras around their homes.
“It was a common occurrence at that point," McMicheal said, according to USA Today.
“It was concerning that nothing was done…concerning that you have to have that constant presence.”
After describing the tenor of the neighborhood in early 2020, McMichael spoke about the events of February 23, 2020. Specifically, he touched on his decision to point his gun at the Ahmaud Arbery. As Greg McMichael and William Bryan cut off each side of the road, Arbery allegedly ran back towards Travis McMichael, who picked up his shotgun and pointed it at the unarmed jogger. The defendant claims that he did this in hopes deescalating the situation.
"When you pull a weapon on someone, from what I've learned in my training, usually that tells people to back off," he told the court, according to Reuters.
It's unclear how McMichael's testimony will play in the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of the jurors, but it is clear that it has not played well in the court of public opinion. A number observers ranging from civil rights attorney Lee Merritt to bestselling author took issue with McMichael's testimony.
Travis McMichael is the first of approximately 30 witnesses that the defense plans to call during its case. The trial of Greg McMichael, William Bryan and Travis McMichael will likely run through the holiday week and potentially through the final days of the month.
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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