The viral video of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery being tracked and shot dead in Brunswick, Georgia caught the nation's attention. When three white men – ex-law enforcement officer Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan – are accused of killing Arbery, the prosecutor and defense attorneys sit down with "48 Hours" and the CBS News correspondent , Omar Villafranca, for their first in-depth television interviews on the network.
The death of Arbery, 25, is a story about a mother's tireless quest for the truth about what happened to her son. It's also a case that raises questions about race and racism and whether local authorities have tried to drop the initial investigation.
We know his name from the last terrifying seconds of Ahmaud Arbery's life that were captured on video. But few of us knew him – a young man who was loved by many. His mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones – a woman of calm strength – made a promise to her son.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: "Do not worry, my son, I promised you the day I laid you to rest so I could get answers and get justice."
Omar Villafranca: What do you think he would tell you?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: "Ma, I know you have my back."
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I didn't really understand that Ahmaud disappeared forever.
Wanda drives home from work and says she often stopped by Ahmaud to finish his daily run.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I look for him every time I come home and he's just – he's not there.
She remembers the last moment they shared when they went on a business trip.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: "I'll be gone for a few days and I love you." … And his last words to me were: "I love you too."
Then came the call she will never forget that Sunday evening last winter, February 23rd.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: This gentleman identified himself as an investigator with the Glynn County Police Department.
She says the investigator told her that Ahmaud broke into a house and was shot.
Wanda Cooper-Jones How could that happen? Is it real Is it a bad dream?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I was young when I had her. We grew up together.
Ahmaud was just 5 years old when his parents separated. Wanda says she worked two jobs while raising him and his older siblings, Marcus Jr. and Jasmine.
Omar Villafranca: How close were you?
Jasmine Arbery: Very close. He knew all of my secrets. He defended me when I couldn't defend myself.
Lifelong friend, Akeem Baker.
Akeem Baker: Ahmaud saw the best in people. He always saw the potential his friends were capable of.
First love, Shenice Johnson.
Shenice Johnson: He was so pretty, so I said, "Oh my god."
Shenice and Ahmaud were just teenagers when they first met. She was working at McDonald's when she enticed Ahmaud with a frozen dessert.
Shenice Johnson: I made a McFlurry and it came and got it. And I did. I caught him with a McFlurry (laughs).
They clicked immediately and stayed together for more than five years.
Shenice Johnson: He always spoke the right words to make me confident and not to be so nervous.
Shenice was nervous and a little homesick during her freshman year. It was Ahmaud, she says, who encouraged her to stay at school.
Shenice Johnson: That told me a lot about him. He really loves me – for me. … I listened and graduated.
Jason Vaughn: Maud was such a leader. The children literally followed Maud.
He showed leadership and grit on the grate, says high school soccer coach Jason Vaughn.
Jason Vaughn: Maud was so easy to love. … And he just had a bright mind around him.
Wanda says it was after high school when his bright mind faded.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I noticed … he wasn't that talkative to me.
After a year at a technical college in 2013, Ahmaud lost interest in the school, says Jasmine.
Jasmine Arbery: Got into a low point in life where he got into trouble.
In December 2013, only 19-year-old Ahmaud was arrested for bringing a gun onto the school grounds in Brunswick High. The judge gave him parole.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: Ahmaud was still living in my house … and he has a gun and I don't know. So I'm angry at this moment.
Four years later, in December 2017, Ahmaud was in trouble again – arrested for shoplifting.
His probationary period was extended and Wanda was concerned. Her son's behavior has changed significantly.
Omar Villafranca: Were you worried that his violations of the law would follow him?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: Very concerned. I wore that every day.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: And I turned to his probation officer and said, "Hey, I have some concerns. Ahmaud isn't doing the right thing with me. Do you think you could help him evaluate him?"
In December 2018, Ahmaud was diagnosed with schizophrenia. But Jasmine says her brother was never dangerous.
Jasmine Arbery: He had no consequences. He wasn't violent.
And Ahmaud even developed his own effective therapy – running.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: He felt he was in total control when he ran.
Omar Villafranca: Would you notice any difference after walking?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: Yes, much quieter. Much calmer.
When Ahmaud made plans to return to school, Wanda felt that her son had regained control of his life.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I never gave up on Ahmaud. Ahmaud was still my little boy. … We had our challenges, but we worked together to resolve them.
But then his sudden, tragic death.
Jasmine Arbery: I remember falling on the floor. … It was a really big shock – even that he broke into the house. That was a big shock to me.
Despite Ahmaud's personal struggles, no one who knew him believed this story.
Jasmine Arbery: And I knew that was not true.
Jason Vaughn: Maud does not break into any house. No, something is wrong.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I had to get answers to find out exactly what happened.
Wanda says she pushed the police for more details, convinced they were not resigned to her. Shortly after Ahmaud was killed, her suspicions only grew when she picked up the local newspaper.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: It told us that Ahmaud was actually hunted and caught and killed on the street.
Hunted and killed on the street – don't break into a house and commit a crime.
Jasmine Arbery: The whole thing that he broke into the house was wrong.
Wanda soon saw their names in the papers. The men who were present when their son was shot: Gregory McMichael, his son Travis and William Roddie Bryan.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: What really stood out was that the elder McMichael was a retired officer for the sheriff's office.
Omar Villafranca: That didn't go well with you?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: It has not.
Omar Villafranca: So Wanda Cooper-Jones has now started her investigation?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: Oh yeah…
CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
Akeem Baker: It was … in the middle of the day. In the middle of the neighborhood. In the middle of the street.
Lee Merritt: The crime here is obvious. There's a dead man on the side of the road.
First responders arrived within minutes of Ahmaud Arbery's death.
Police questioned and later released the three men at the scene: William Roddie Bryan, a 50-year-old local mechanic, Travis McMichael, 34, a Coast Guard veteran, and McMichael's father Gregory, 64, a retired police officer.
Omar Villafranca: Why was nobody arrested immediately? You have a dead man on the floor.
Lee Merritt: And … the victim was black, the suspects were white, and that's South Georgia.
Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who represents Ahmaud's family, believes that every part of this investigation was affected by Ahmaud's race. And according to investigators, Gregory McMichael quickly made it clear that he had friends in high positions.
Lee Merritt: He was a close friend of the county attorney's office.
The elder McMichael had worked in District Attorney Jackie Johnson's office.
Omar Villafranca: So what does that say to an answering officer?
Lee Merritt: That this person won't be someone to arrest. You are above the law. You are the law.
Ahmaud's mother, Wanda, had doubted the authorities' reports of the shooting from the start.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I had to get answers to find out what exactly happened.
So Wanda DA called Jackie Johnson's office. Johnson had already retired because Gregory McMichael had worked with her. Johnson's successor was a nearby county attorney, George Barnhill. So she called Barnhill's office too.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I asked him if he knew what happened to my son. I said, "Do you know what happened?" And he said very casually that Ahmaud had been shot with a shotgun more than once.
She says Barnhill told her he was waiting to see if there were drugs and / or alcohol in Ahmaud's system. The toxicological tests later came back clean.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: He spoke to me as if Ahmaud did something wrong.
Akeem Baker: The prosecutor's office gave her the detour.
Baker says that's what Wanda believed when she went online in mid-March to learn all about Barnhill herself. She found potentially explosive information on his Facebook page.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: There was a Greg McMichael as a friend.
A Facebook friendship between Prosecutor George Barnhill and Gregory McMichael.
Lee Merritt: Wanda Cooper-Jones did her homework, made connections.
According to Merritt, Wanda also discovered that Barnhill's son had a connection with Gregory McMichael. They had both worked together in DA Jackie Johnson's office.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: So I knew that all of these people were connected.
It had been more than 30 days to early April without the Arbery shootout being arrested. And people who had known Ahmaud refused to leave his death unanswered.
Jason Vaughn: I won't let them do it to Maud.
Coach Vaughn and Akeem Baker were convinced that Ahmaud had been murdered in cold blood and encouraged the community to exert pressure.
And it apparently had an effect. On April 7, 42 days after the shooting, Barnhill was the second prosecutor to withdraw from the Arbery case. His written statements at the time could provide an indication of why there were no arrests.
Lee Merritt: He made – all he could – Ahmaud Arbery the evil black villain we should all fear.
Barnhill pointed to Ahmaud's two arrests, citing his "obviously aggressive nature" and arguing that he was the dangerous one that day.
Lee Merritt (Reads Barnhill's correspondence): "This was from the start or almost immediately turned into a shotgun fight. … Ahmaud Arbery initiated the fight … Under Georgian law, McMichael was allowed to use lethal force to protect himself . "
Lee Merritt: I've seen this film before … in which the victim is recognized as the attacker and the attacker as the victim.
A week after Barnhill's rejection, the Georgia Attorney General appointed DA Tom Durden from another nearby county to replace him. However, there have been no charges in the case.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: And I knew if I didn't fight it wouldn't be an arrest.
But then, on May 5th, something happened that burned the murder of Ahmaud Arbery into American history:
NORAH O & # 39; DONNELL | CBS Evening News May 5, 2020: There are explosive new developments tonight in a fatal shoot-out that reveals racist tension in a Georgia community.
William "Roddie" Bryan
It turned out that one of the men present at the shooting – Roddie Bryan – had recorded a cell phone video. His footage mysteriously appeared online:
NORAH O & # 39; DONNELL | "CBS Evening News," May 5, 2020: A video emerged of an African American being stalked and killed while his family said he was jogging. We warn you – this video is graphic.
Shenice Johnson: It made me sick.
Akeem Baker: I called my mom crying … I was just hurt.
Jason Vaughn (crying): It's one of the most terrible things I've ever seen in my life.
Wanda says Tom Durden, the third prosecutor assigned to the case, was the first prosecutor to offer condolences. Durden immediately said he was going to bring charges and brought in agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Meanwhile, the indignation spread quickly.
GAYLE KING | "CBS This Morning": More than 100 people protested last night in Brunswick, Georgia …
Several famous voices also spoke, including Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, and Kim Kardashian.
I am absolutely devastated and appalled by the senseless, cold-blooded, racially motivated murder of Ahmaud Arbery. #JusticeForAhmaud
– Taylor Swift (@ taylorswift13) May 7, 2020
Please sign this petition for charges to be brought and for Ahmaud Arbery's family to be brought to justice. #JusticeForAhmaudArbery https://t.co/NvbsyFK4QT pic.twitter.com/RP7lqj8ZL1
– Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 7, 2020
Lee Merritt: We haven't slacked off.
There were two arrests on May 7, 74 days after the shooting.
GBI DIRECTOR VIC REYNOLDS (to reporters): Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents have arrested two people, Greg and Travis McMichael.
It was just days after the video went viral. They were charged with both murder and aggravated assault.
Days later, another widespread video by Ahmaud from 2017 emerges. Lee Merritt says it's another example of racial profiles – the black as a criminal.
COP to AHMAUD (Bodycam video): What's your name?
Lee Merritt: He wanted to be alone in the park and compose music. That was his goal.
COP (Bodycam Video): Do you have ID with you, man?
Lee Merritt: And the police found him in the park and said he looked suspicious.
COP (Bodycam Video): I'm here to look for criminal activity, that's all I do.
Lee Merritt: Ahmaud is understandably upset when they attribute this criminal element to him.
COP (Bodycam Video): I don't drive in your car. To back up!
AHMAUD ARBERY (standing next to his car): Don't touch me, brother!
Lee Merritt: He explains to them, look, you all look around. I'm only here in the park you know If you can tell me what I did wrong, I'll either stop or you can arrest me for it. Otherwise, can I go back to what I did?
AHMAUD ARBERY (Bodycam video): Rap, I rap!
Another officer comes in and shoots a taser at him. It doesn't work – and the officers eventually let him go.
COP (Bodycam Video): You get what happened here …
COP: You can go, I'll talk to …
Lee Merritt: I winced when I saw it.
Lee Merritt: You should say "Yes, Sir, No, Sir" and hopefully survive the encounter.
Ahmaud survived this encounter with the police. He did not survive his encounter with three men at Satilla Shores. Two weeks after the McMichaels were arrested, it was Roddie Bryan, who was charged with murderous crimes and the criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Glynn Detention Center
By then, the third prosecutor, Tom Durden, had asked his superiors to replace him, stating that his office did not have sufficient resources to investigate the case. Durden wouldn't agree to an interview; Neither the previous two attorneys nor anyone in the Glynn County Police Department.
With pictures of Ahmaud Arbery's final moments still haunting laptops and living rooms across America, the accused will go to trial in this case.
Lee Merritt Lee (crying): I looked at Wanda, I wanted to make sure she was okay.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: There are no words to really describe it.
Lee Merritt (cries): To know that this – these were his last moments – that this evil …
AHMAUD'S FINAL MOMENTS
More than three months after Ahmaud Arbery's death, Gregory and Travis McMichael appear on video at a preliminary trial in which they and William Roddie Bryan are charged with his murder. If the judge decides there is enough evidence to go to court, anyone could face the option of life imprisonment.
WTOC / pool
There is also another new prosecutor on the case, Jesse Evans, who will first review the state's chief investigator, Richard Dial.
PROSECUTOR JESSE EVANS: Were you able to put together a chronology of how Ahmaud Arbery was shot at the Satilla Shores?
AGENT RICHARD DAIL: Yes sir, I have.
The chronology of the authorities is based in part on Roddie Bryan's video. So far, Wanda has avoided seeing it. But she's on trial, hoping to find out more about that terrible day.
Omar Villafranca: Was this the first time you heard details about your son's final moments?
Wanda Cooper-Jones: Yes.
On February 23, Ahmaud's time would be only two miles from the neighborhood he lived in. It happened in Satilla Shores. He started training before 1 p.m.
Omar Villafranca: Why do you think everyone comes here to run?
Lee Merritt | Arbery lawyer (stands on a street in the neighborhood): I mean, check it out.
Satilla Shores is predominantly white.
Lee Merritt: It was the other side of the tracks. Houses are beautiful. Beautiful moss-covered trees. You could smell the honeysuckle every time you walk into the neighborhood.
Jason Vaughn: For a runner it is a dream path.
Many of the houses had surveillance cameras that later helped the police put what had happened.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: From the surveillance video … you see Mr. Arbery … walking straight into the house.
Shortly after entering Satilla Shores, Ahmaud stops at a construction site at 220 Satilla Drive where an outside tower man is building a house.
Lee Merritt: While he's in the house, one of the neighbors notices.
It is 1:08 pm.
AGENT DIAL: He saw Mr. Arbery go inside, so he calls 911.
CALLER: Right now a man is in a house, a house under construction.
911 OPERATOR: And you said someone was breaking in?
Caller: No, everything is open. It is under construction.
At the time, the house was still missing doors. There are no signs prohibiting entry. Some speculate that Ahmaud went in to take a sip of water – or just to satisfy his curiosity.
Jason Vaughn: He looks around, kind of admires what was going on, maybe you dream that one day he would be his home.
Lee Merritt: He comes out of this entrance …
The security footage picks up Ahmaud, who starts to run again, apparently unaware that he is getting into a world of trouble. The neighbors are still watching.
Caller: He's running now, there he goes now.
911 OPERATOR: You said it was a man in a black t-shirt?
Caller: White t-shirt. Black, white t-shirt.
And another neighbor has shown a particular interest – Gregory McMichael.
The McMichaels later told the police they had seen Ahmaud before. And although there is no evidence that Ahmaud stole or damaged anything in the house, today they decide to follow him.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: Greg McMichael … tells Travis the guy is running down the street. They both reach for their weapons.
They follow Ahmaud in their truck down Satilla Drive onto Burford Road.
Lee Merritt: The McMichaels rush towards him, they step behind him. … They claim that they are starting to yell at him, "Hey, hold on, stop, we want to talk to you." He does not answer.
Omar Villafranca: Why do you think Ahmaud kept running and did not stop?
Lee Merritt: So there were men who chased him with guns.
The McMichaels are still on Ahmaud's tail as he runs past Roddie Bryan's house. Merritt says Bryan took it upon himself to participate.
Lee Merritt: This is where things really escalate because when he turns to run the other way he is faced with another truck.
According to the suspects' statements to the police, they are chasing Ahmaud around the neighborhood for about 4 minutes. According to authorities, Ahmaud's handprint, which was later found around a dent on Roddie Bryan's truck, suggests that Bryan used the truck to hit him.
Lee Merritt: They use the trucks to pack him up. But he can walk around her and at that point he takes off here …
But Bryan catches up with him again and now he's filming on his cell phone. Investigators now say that the McMichaels took a different route to get before Ahmaud. They are waiting for him near the corner of Satilla Drive and Holmes Road. At this point, the father, Gregory McMichael, is in the truck bed with a magnum of .357. At around 1:15 p.m., he calls 911::
GREGORY MCMICHAEL: I'm here at Satilla Shores. There is a black man running down the street –
911 OPERATOR: Satilla – where, where, where at Satilla Shores?
GREGORY MCMICHAEL: I don't know which street we're on. Stop right there! Damn! Stop!
McMichael's son Travis is near the driver's door, shotgun in hand.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: Mr. Arbery … changes direction to avoid the passenger side of the vehicle.
When Coach Vaughn sees the video, he says he envisions changing the ending.
Jason Vaughn | Ahmaud's H.S. Coach: Maud is literally trying to make a football move and walk around. … So I just kept watching like, Maud like, go! How go Maud, how go!
After Ahmaud changes direction, Travis McMichael meets him on the front bumper.
Lee Merritt: You are not trying to escape a bullet. He had to get involved at this point.
Lee Merritt: He knew he had to fight for his life.
From this point on, it is hotly debated who did what to whom and why.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: … You hear a shot.
Lee Merritt: The first shot actually hits Ahmaud in the chest.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: You are currently in a physical confrontation. They go from the screen.
Lee Merritt: Travis picks up the gun a second time and shoots him in the hand.
Ahmaud and Travis McMichael quickly come into view again.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: And then you see a third shot.
Lee Merritt: You see Ahmaud stumble and … he collapses.
Ahmaud Arbery is pronounced dead at the scene.
AGENT RICHARD DIAL (at the hearing): The cause was a gunshot wound; Way was murder.
Omar Villafranca: How did you react when you heard from an investigator?
Wanda Cooper-Jones:: It gave me a little bit of closure about what happened that day.
But Wanda says there is something else about this day that she may never understand. It turns out that on the day Ahmaud died, Roddie Bryan gave a copy of his video to authorities. You've had it all along.
Lee Merritt: The Glynn County Police Department had an opportunity to see the video before it was released and did not make any arrests.
Bryan later tells the authorities something that Wanda is still grappling with: When Ahmaud is on the floor, Travis McMichael adds an insult to the injury.
PROSECUTOR JESSE EVANS (at the hearing): Can you please articulate in court what Mr Bryan said he heard Travis McMichael say?
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: Yeah … Mr. Bryan said he gave Travis McMichael the statement "f ***** g n **** r!"
Wanda is haunted by the possibility that her son was still alive at that moment.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: I became very deaf. … I mean, it was the last few seconds of my baby in his life and those were the last words he heard?
LEE MERRITT (to reporters): Racism was the basis for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
But defenders disagree.
Jason Sheffield: The video doesn't tell the story.
THE DEFENSE OF THE MCMICHAELS
Gregory McMichael's attorneys, Laura and Frank Hogue, insist that this case is not about race.
Laura Hogue: I don't think Gregory McMichael is a racist.
Frank Hogue: It is not just two white men out there who hunt, catch and execute a black man, as the prosecution has characterized. … It didn't happen.
They say that 30 seconds of video will judge their customer unfairly.
Frank Hogue: You look through the knothole of a fence. And that's exactly what you see is the little video that Roddie Bryan shot.
However, the real testimony to his character is his 30-year career in law enforcement.
Laura Hogue: He would jump in and go beyond to root out the crime.
They say he jumped 44 years ago during his early service in the Navy to save the life of a fellow sailor.
Frank Hogue: Greg paddled in the surf and managed to get that desperate sailor on the surfboard … and took him to the beach. … And the seaman he saved was an African American seaman.
Attorneys Jason Sheffield and Bob Rubin tell a similar story about Travis McMichael.
Bob Rubin: Travis McMichael saved his first life when he was 17 years old … A black young man fell into the pool and drowned.
Travis had a long career in the Coast Guard.
Bob Rubin: He saved numerous other lives while serving in the Coast Guard.
Like the Hogues, they also insist that it's not about race.
Bob Rubin: This case is about a good man who had to defend himself on February 23, 2020 – when he was in a terrible situation.
The defense claims the McMichaels only tried to stop Ahmaud that day because they suspected him of the break-in. And they say Gregory McMichael recognized him from a neighbor's security footage.
Bob Rubin: The only reason the gun came into play is because Ahmaud Arbery attacked Travis McMichael.
According to the police report on the shooting, the McMichaels said they yelled at Ahmaud to stop running. As Travis pulled up and got out of the truck with his gun, Ahmaud "began to attack Travis violently and the two men then began to fight over the shotgun".
Bob Rubin: He is attacked and overwhelmed by Ahmaud Arbery's strength. And he must either fire that weapon or lose his life at that point.
Omar Villafranca: That will be your defense?
Bob Rubin: That's what happened.
Defense says Travis was afraid of Ahmaud.
Omar Villafranca: Even though Travis has a gun and a vehicle and Ahmaud Arbery has two legs?
Jason Sheffield: You can still be scared while owning a firearm.
Cobb County Attorney Jesse Evans blames the McMichaels.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans: The person who started it was clearly Greg and Travis McMichael. … Wenn sie die Wahl treffen, Waffen zu ergreifen und das Gesetz selbst in die Hand zu nehmen, beginnt dieses Verbrechen. Es beginnt nicht am Ende dieses ganzen Fortschritts mitten auf der Straße.
Bei ihrer vorläufigen Anhörung brachte die Verteidigung Ahmauds Geisteskrankheit zur Sprache:
JASON SHEFFIELD (bei der Anhörung): Gibt es irgendetwas an der mentalen Geschichte, das eine Rolle hätte spielen können, die letztendlich zur Frage führen wird, ob dies ein Fall von Selbstverteidigung war?
Bob Rubin: Wenn sich herausstellt, dass diese Probleme erklären können, warum er so gehandelt hat, wie er gehandelt hat, dann könnte es relevant sein.
Aber Evans sagt, Ahmauds geistige Gesundheit habe nichts mit dem Schießen zu tun.
Staatsanwalt Jesse Evans: Die Verteidigung möchte eine Erzählung erstellen, die sich ein wenig von dem unterscheidet, was wir alle im Video sehen.
Aber es scheint, dass die McMichaels so sicher waren, dass sie gerechtfertigt waren, dass sie dafür gesorgt haben, dass das Video durchgesickert ist.
Omar Villafranca: Glauben Sie, dass dieses Video seine Unschuld bestätigt?
Frank Hogue: Ja, ich will. Aber nicht nur das Video … Sie brauchen mehr.
Bob Rubin: Sie wissen nicht, was vor diesem Tag, der Woche zuvor, dem Monat davor und den Monaten davor passiert ist.
Und in den Monaten vor den Dreharbeiten war Satilla Shores nervös.
Bob Rubin: In der Nachbarschaft herrschte reges Treiben über alle aufgetretenen Eigentumsverbrechen.
Laura Hogue: Dinge aus Autos und Lastwagen, Hausfriedensbruch, Verdacht auf Einbruch.
Larry English: Wir waren besorgt. Ich hatte bereits von zwei oder drei Situationen gehört.
Larry English baute ein Haus am 220 Satilla Drive, gleich die Straße runter vom McMichaels. English hatte Überwachungskameras installiert und mehrere Eindringlinge auf seinem Grundstück gemeldet.
Larry English: Vier, fünf, vielleicht sechs verschiedene Zeiten.
Die englische Anwältin Elizabeth Graddy sagt, er habe sie alle gemeldet.
Elizabeth Graddy: Er hat angerufen, als das weiße Paar das Haus betreten hat. … Und selbst wenn… Kinder tagsüber betreten.
Einer dieser Eindringlinge ist vermutlich Ahmaud, der mehr als einmal auf englischem Sicherheitsmaterial gesehen wurde.
Staatsanwalt Jesse Evans: Ahmaud Arbery hat in diesem Haus keine Verbrechen begangen. Er hat nichts genommen.
Aber Ahmauds Anwesenheit auf dieser Baustelle löste bei einigen Nachbarn Verdacht aus.
Lee Merritt: Viele Leute fingen an, die Kriminalität der schwarzen Person zuzuschreiben, die auf das Grundstück kam.
Zwei Monate vor der Schießerei erhielt Larry English eine SMS von einem Polizisten, in der er vorschlug, Greg McMichael anzurufen, falls er weitere Eindringlinge hätte. Der Beamte schrieb: "Greg ist pensionierter Strafverfolgungsbeamter und auch ein pensionierter Ermittler aus dem Büro der Staatsanwaltschaft. Er sagte, bitte rufen Sie ihn Tag oder Nacht an, wenn Sie Maßnahmen auf Ihrer Kamera ergreifen." Englisch hat nie auf die Nachricht geantwortet.
Lee Merritt: Larry English hat klargestellt, dass er nicht wollte und er hat nicht darum gebeten, dass die McMichaels sein Haus nach ihm durchsuchen. … Sie haben es trotzdem auf sich genommen.
Less than two weeks before the McMichaels admit chasing Ahmaud, Travis McMichael had called 911 reporting an intruder at Larry English's house:
TRAVIS MCMICHAEL (February 11, 2020): I just caught a guy running into a house being built. Two houses down from me.
911 OPERATOR: What did he look like?
TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: It's a black male, red shirt white shorts.
Frank Hogue: This is 12 days before the event. So, this neighborhood's on edge, and the McMichaels are right at the center of it.
According to court testimony from the GBI's lead investigator, on February 23, Gregory McMichael told police he was operating on a hunch when he decided to go after the Black man they'd seen on English's property.
FRANK HOGUE (at hearing): He was trying to intercept someone, he had a thought, a feeling, a gut instinct, I think was Agent Dial's word.
The McMichaels' defense says they had every right to pursue Ahmaud.
Bob Rubin: As citizens in the state of Georgia, like many other states … they have … a right to detain others where they have probable cause to believe a crime is being committed.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans: There is absolutely no legal right for a person to stop somebody merely on a hunch or a gut feeling, which is exactly what Greg McMichael said that he had.
Omar Villafranca: Is reasonable suspicion enough?
Prosecutor Jesse Evans: Absolutely not.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans says there's no justification for any of the choices the suspects made that led to Ahmaud Arbery being shot and killed.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans: Any single shot was too much. Merely pointing that shotgun at somebody was too much. Getting in pickup trucks and chasing Ahmaud Arbery down was too much. This whole case is too much.
And as much as the McMichaels defense insists that race had nothing to do with their actions that day, the prosecution intends to introduce texts and social media evidence to the contrary. In court, the GBI agent noted that material found on Travis' phone showed him repeatedly using the N-word.
JASON SHEFFIELD (at hearing): Have you seen any other evidence he used that horrible N-word anywhere else?
AGENT RICHARD DIAL: Yessir, many times.
And then there's Roddie Bryan's damning statement that Travis used the N-word standing over Ahmaud's body. The defense says it never happened.
Omar Villafranca: Do you think Roddie made that up?
Jason Sheffield: I think Roddie Bryan is incredibly motivated … to keep himself from becoming a defendant in a murder trial.
On July 17, William "Roddie" Bryan appears via video at his arraignment hearing.
KEVIN GOUGH: We are prepared to enter plea of not guilty …
JUDGE: Mr. Bryan … is that correct?
WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN: That is correct.
Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, told "48 Hours" his client was minding his own business at home that day when he saw a truck he recognized, chasing a man he didn't. He got into his truck and began following.
Omar Villafranca: Why did he record it?
Kevin Gough: Why not?
Gough insists Bryan's actions don't implicate him in any way.
Kevin Gough: He's never been more than a witness to this shooting.
Omar Villafranca: Did he call 911?
Kevin Gough: I'm not gonna get into the evidence.
Jesse Evans says Bryan never called 911. And he says there's plenty of damning evidence about what Bryan did do.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans: We think he's an active participant.
So active, Evans contends, that in trying to box Ahmaud in, Bryan actually hit him with his truck.
Omar Villafranca: There's dents on the truck.
Kevin Gough: Well … There is no evidence that Mr. Bryan did anything improper with his vehicle.
Gough goes so far as to claim Ahmaud may have dented the truck while trying to steal it.
Kevin Gough: The state's gonna have to address … is — is that evidence more consistent with a carjacking or attempted carjacking than Mr. Bryan engaging in any improper conduct.
Omar Villafranca: Kevin, do you think a jury's gonna buy that?
Kevin Gough: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa. I'm not the prosecutor.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans: But for the actions of Mr. Bryan — it's reasonably foreseeable that Ahmaud Arbery could have … exited that — that neighborhood.
But like the McMichaels' defense, Kevin Gough seems to be counting on the jury to see Ahmaud as the aggressor that day.
Kevin Gough: The simplest explanation for what went on here is that Mr. Arbery charged Travis McMichael.
And Gough insists Roddie Bryan did witness Travis standing over Ahmaud and using a racial slur.
Omar Villafranca: Roddie did hear Travis McMichael say those words?
Kevin Gough: That's what he told the police … and I'm confident that what he told the police was true.
Omar Villafranca: What about your client? Does Roddie use language like that?
Kevin Gough: I'm sorry?
Omar Villafranca: Is Roddie Bryan a racist?
Kevin Gough: I think he's not. … Roddie Bryan doesn't have a hateful bone in his body.
But investigators found Bryan's phone full of racist texts.
Omar Villafranca: It's not just once or twice. Again, on Martin Luther King Day, he says, "I bet y'all are having a Monkey parade over there." Wouldn't this … paint him that he is a racist?
Kevin Gough: I don't think so.
Omar Villafranca: I've got multiple pages of him using the N-word. And that doesn't make him a racist?
Kevin Gough: No, sir.
Gough says the texts are being taken out of context.
Omar Villafranca: Do you use that word? I mean, feel free to use it on national TV right now, Kevin. If you think, "Eh, it can be put— it can be used in a proper context."
Kevin Gough: It's not a word I would use. But I'm not Roddie Bryan.
Omar Villafranca: Was it a hate crime in your mind?
Jason Vaughn: Absolutely, without a doubt.
Lee Merritt: if it wasn't for … the complexion of his skin, he would still be alive today.
And to Ahmaud's family and friends, his name belongs on a list that's already far too long.
Jason Vaughn: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner…
Shenice Johnson: Mike Brown …
Akeem Baker: Kendrick Johnson …
Lee Merritt: Breonna, George, and so many other names.
Still, Wanda is determined.
Wanda Cooper-Jones: Some good will come out of this eventually.
Akeem Baker: This is a marathon. It's not a sprint
And Ahmaud's lifelong friend Akeem Baker says the road to racial justice may be long, but it's not a dead end.
Akeem Baker: So, I continue to run … until we get justice for Ahmaud Arbery … I love you bro.
The Department of Justice is considering federal hate crime charges in the Ahmaud Arbery case.