Ahmaud Arbery and Unnecessary Division
Ahmaud Arbery (25) was shot and killed by Travis McMichael (34) who was with his father Gregory McMichael (64) on February 23, 2020. The perpetrators have been arrested and charged with murder for following Arbery, who they claim to have thought was a burglar, down the road and instigating a confrontation with him resulting in his death. As seen on video of the incident, he was not in the act of stealing anything, he was jogging down the road when the men pulled up to him in their truck and accosted him, leading to a situation which ended with him being shot three times by a shotgun.(1)
So that’s that, right? There is no crime happening, the two suspects drive up on him, start a fight, and shoot him three times. Open and shut case of two men overstepping the line and we can arrest them and move on. Easy case, easy guilty.
That’s how it should be, but unfortunately instead of something we can all agree on this has become a mired mess of race politics, media debates, and circular reasoning to defend the indefensible. Why is that? Why are we treating this like its on par with self defense or a police officer acting in the line of duty? Why is there anyone, but especially enough to make a fuss about it on social media, who feels the need to champion on behalf of murderers?
I can’t even begin to guess. They come up with excuses like open carry, self defense, and citizen’s arrest and prop them up like pillars for their arguments. But those pillars are built on sand and I plan to bring them down one by one. I can’t promise everyone will listen, and we will have to wait until the pair are put on trial to see how it all plays out, but for those who are questioning and for those who need a comprehensive resource to look into what has happened and how to argue with facts I will show how the defense of these men is not the hill anyone should be willing to die on.
The All Important Timeline and Cast
So how did this all go down? As details are released, the story starts to write itself. Unfortunately getting all the detail in one place has been a major pain in the ass. But I think I’ve managed.
On May 10th, a new tape was revealed from the February case. This second recording was security camera footage taken moments before the tragic incident. It shows an individual, confirmed by the Arbery family’s lawyer to be Ahmaud, walking down the street and approaching a house under construction. The house was protected by security cameras which caught him entering the property through the door-less frame, looking around, and leaving without any sign of stealing or committing any other act aside from trespassing on a construction site, at most a misdemeanor.(2)
I have seen many speculating that he was casing the location, looking for tools or copper to steal, and more. I won’t be addressing those because they are baseless fluff that are only there to make people feel better about their viewpoint. There is no evidence he was planning something like that in this case and there is evidence he left the property empty handed. With no trial possible, he will have to be considered innocent unless something more substantial than a record and assumptions comes to light as far as I and this report are concerned. And with everything else we’re going to learn about this case, it’s safe to say if that evidence existed, we would have it by now.
After he left empty handed, a man across the street saw him exit the property and resume jogging. This man called the police on a non-emergency line to report the incident. (3)
Non-Emergency Dispatcher: Okay, what is he doing?
Caller: He’s running down the street.
NED: Okay, that’s fine. I’ll get them out there. I just need to know what he was doing wrong.
Caller: (Suspect) … has been caught on the camera a bunch before at night… It’s kind of an ongoing thing out here.Dialogue from Source 3 Formatting by me
Who made this call? Most of the sources don’t say, and it is redacted in the audio. This caused me endless frustration because it’s kind of important. Especially since the video of Ahmaud looking around the property became the crux of many people’s arguments as to why the McMichaels were justified in instigating this whole mess. They’re wrong, but sometimes to thoroughly defeat someone’s argument, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt then destroy their argument anyway.
So I kept looking for which player we could thank for this, and I think I figured out the answer, and it came from an unlikely source.
Alan Tucker, a defense attorney who has worked with the McMichaels in this case, told First Coast News that the man who recorded the video that brought a renewed attention to this case is the “one who saw Arbery coming out of the house and said ‘that’s him.'” (4) Who is that man? William “Roddy” Bryan (5).
*This is where I have to make it clear that this is only my opinion on the matter.*
Tucker claims he doesn’t know if Bryan made the call to the police(4). However, the person who is calling does not sound like the person who made the 911 call during the altercation, who was Gregory McMichael, a former police detective. Also, whoever called is 100% in on the narrative that Arbery is a thief. (3) That, and the language used by Tucker in the article makes Bryan sound like the caller; the one who made the tape was the one who spotted Arbery leave the house and that’s who called the non-emergency number. (4)
According to the police report, Gregory also spotted Ahmaud running or “hauling ass” down the road and, due to thinking he was responsible for a string of robberies in the area, told his son to grab a gun and get in the truck. (6)
The reason he thought he needed guns? He had seen the victim reach into his pants ‘the other night’ (officer’s quotes) and this made him think he had a gun. (6) Absolutely flawless reasoning to be sure. Guess he’s never had to rearrange the family jewels.
Then they drove after him. Again, because they thought he had committed a string of robberies in the area… and not because they saw him come out of the house. They don’t even mention the house in the police report. (6) Or on the second 911 call. (3) This is another reason I don’t think Gregory was the first caller despite some sites thinking he was. Those sites also seem to merge both calls into one(7), so you can see why I had to hunt down different sources for different parts of this. No one has the whole story straight.
McMichael also told police that Arbery tried to get away by turning around and going the other way when “Roddy” made an unsuccessful attempt to box him in. They moved to follow and this is when the video comes in. (6) A pretty bold move to say the man your son just killed tried to not get shot and to avoid escalating the situation more than you did.
“McMichael stated they saw the unidentified male and shouted “stop stop, we want to talk to you”. McMichael stated they pulled up beside the male and shouted stop again at which time Travis exited the truck with the shotgun. McMichael stated the unidentified male began to violently attack Travis and the two men then started fighting over the shotgun at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot. McMichael stated the male fell face down on the pavement with his hand under his body. McMichael stated he rolled the man over to see if the male had a weapon.”Police Report, Source 6
I watched the video. (7) Multiple times. It was shaky, but it shows enough. If you haven’t seen it, I will say that you can’t see blood, but it is the last moments of a man’s life and you can hear the shots and see gunsmoke from at least one blast. Think carefully before you decide to watch it, but it is important to the case.
Travis and Gregory had parked the truck a ways in front of Arbery while William pulls up behind, camera rolling. Travis is outside of the open driver’s door, standing in the middle of the opposite lane with a shotgun in his hand and Gregory is in the truck bed as the victim runs towards them. Ahmaud continues forward until he gets close to the truck, then he changes direction towards the shoulder farthest from the big angry man with a shotgun. (7) So if the report has even a shred of truth to it, this is the second time the victim attempted to avoid this attack, and also goes against their police report claim that Travis was immediately jumped by Ahmaud upon exiting his vehicle. (6)
The camera pans down and we hear yelling. It comes back up in time to see what really matters. Travis has moved. He crossed the road towards the front of the truck, rifle up and his finger on the trigger, likely in an attempt to head off Arbery. At that point, the victim made a sharp left towards the nearing armed threat. That is when the first of three shots was fired. (7)
It was after this shot that Arbery made contact with Travis, pushing into his shoulder and trying to grab the gun, forcing it down and away from himself. They wrestled for the weapon and two more shots were fired. The second shot happened off camera, with a smoke plume being caught on screen, but the third was in frame after Arbery hit Travis several times. He gave a few final tugs before staggering away and collapsing where he slowly bled to death. (7)
Unlike the report, Travis was the aggressor as he closed the distance first. (7)
Unlike the report, there were three shots, not two. (7) Almost like the first one that happened before “the unidentified male began to violently attack Travis” (6) didn’t count.
Unlike their assumptions, Ahmaud was unarmed. (1)
During this incident, just before the shots were fired, the 911 call was made, this time by Gregory. He gave the neighborhood to the dispatcher but couldn’t name the street through his labored breathing. As he was trying to explain that they were attempting to stop a man who was running down the street, something began to happen around him. (3)
In the recording Gregory can then be heard shouting, “G**damn it, c’mon, Travis.” At least according to the article I found. When I listen, I hear either “Stop right there” or “Stop with that” before he says “damn it” a pause then “Travis.” No matter which, the line goes quiet and he becomes unresponsive to the operator. (3)
The police arrive, the case is decided as self defense, and no arrests are made. Later, Tucker, who works with the McMichaels, released the Bryan tape and the public went wild. (4) And now here we are.
Arbery goes into a house under construction (for unknown reasons because he is dead), takes nothing, leaves empty handed, is spotted by a neighbor jogging (maybe Bryan but we don’t know), who calls the non-emergency line, who doesn’t seem to get why they are being called but promises to send someone, and then…
Men post up in rode to block Ahmaud. Victim tries to avoid a fight. Gregory calls 911 for the first time. Travis crosses towards victim with his finger on the trigger. The first shot is fired before Ahmaud reaches his attacker. Fight for the gun, two more shots, fall to the ground, and a very inaccurate police report that leads to no one getting arrested.
The Issues With the Case
“But Shadow Bard, you already pointed out the disparities between the report and facts!”
Good observation, but we’re not done yet. A whole host of problems are stuck in this narrative that I’ve only touched on so far in the effort to keep the timeline at least partially coherent. Now we’ll go back and sort out the rest.
The first issue: the non-emergency call. What’s wrong with it? For starters not knowing who made the call. Why does it matter? Motive.
**This is the part where I insert a giant asterisks and say this has not yet gone to trial and despite them robbing Arbery of the proper course of justice, maintaining the rule of law and ensuring they get their due process is essential. Therefore, no matter how guilty I think they are, they must be considered innocent until proven otherwise. But there is no rule against processing the information and drawing conclusions. These are mine.**
Citizen Arrest Angle
Tucker stated that “Roddy” is the one who spotted Ahmaud leaving the house. He then corrects himself by saying he doesn’t know if he was the one to call the police, but I’m nearly positive it was him. (4) Why is this important? Because it would mean that only “Roddy” witnessed anything close to an active crime.
OCGA 17-4-60 “A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”Citizen Arrest Laws Source 5
In order to perform a citizens arrest in Georgia, the person making the arrest must have seen the crime or have “reasonable and probable” suspicion that one was committed. (5) So if “Roddy” was the one to witness him leaving and suspected he stole something, that would mean he would have to be the one to perform the citizen’s arrest. Or at the very least not seeing him leave means both McMichaels have no grounds as the most they can have in this case is hearsay.
But let’s say Gregory did see Ahmaud leave the property. What does the law say in that case? “IF the offense is a felony” [my emphasis] a citizen can pull off an arrest. (5) And was a felony committed that day? Not according to the first police call.
Whoever called the police didn’t seem think it was a felony or anything more than a footnote for police to check out since he called the non-emergency line as opposed to calling 911. The dispatcher on the other end didn’t seem to think it was a felony either as she repeatedly asked “what is he doing wrong… is he just not supposed to be there?” (3) The Arbery family attorney is also certain that at most he committed a misdemeanor. (2)
As for the actual shooter, Travis, he’s the only one who we can almost guarantee didn’t see the incident. Not only did Gregory fail to mention a current event in the report, he specifically said, “he then ran inside his house and called to Travis (McMichael) and said ‘Travis the guy is running down the street lets go’.” (6) Now I’ll admit Gregory is lying through his teeth in this report to defend his son, but would he really lie about the one thing necessary to give them a legal motive in the first place?
Because if they don’t have the house sighting, what do they have to justify them confronting him? Some old tapes from security cameras that are totally definitely him you guys? (6) From a string of burglaries in the area that are “kind of an ongoing thing out here”? (3) You know. The ones that didn’t happen. (8)
Yeah that’s right. Between January 1st and the incident only one robbery was reported for the area, and it was on January 1st. The target? A gun from a car parked outside of the McMichaels’ home. Well that certainly clears a few things up, now doesn’t it? Sounds like there might be a little bit of personal interest and prior gun mismanagement. The vehicle wasn’t even locked. (8)
So we’re supposed to believe that after one prior incident, 54 days before the confrontation(8), with the suspect only being spotted on camera at night (3), that Gregory and Travis were able to definitively identify Ahmaud as this robber? Enough to have probable cause? I’m not buying it but I won’t be on their jury, unfortunately.
Jumping the Gun
According to Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s former high school football coach, Ahmaud was well known for running through the area. Even playing basketball with younger children in the neighborhood. (7) So why was he decided on as the thief? Unfortunately, unless either man confesses, we likely won’t know.
There are a few theories as to why Arbery might have been targeted. One involves Gregory, who had only retired from being a police detective about a year previously(5). During his time as an investigator, McMichael and Arbery had a few run ins. Ahmaud’s first offense was taking a weapon to school, which is absolutely a big deal. But it was his first offense and he was given five years probation. His other big crime? Breaking probation by shoplifting. Aaaaand that’s it. The last offense was in 2018. Aside from that, even Barnhill can’t point to more than his brother and cousin being in prison. (9)
That history does not a serial crook make. That, and the details don’t seem to match up with this being the reason. It was supposedly “Roddy” who decided Arbery was the responsible party. (4) On top of that, Gregory never called Ahmaud by name, and resorted to that weak excuse of reaching down his pants that one time to explain why they needed multiple guns to ask Ahmaud if he had taken anything in the neighborhood. (3,6) I feel like a prior weapons conviction would have been a much stronger excuse if he actually knew who Ahmaud was when he started to chase him. (9)
Then why did they think it was him? We can’t say for sure unless they admit it themselves. But… Weeell… “…there’s a black male running down the street.” (3)
I have bi-racial cousins. I’ve seen little old ladies of different races following each other around Wal-mart on their shopping trips as they laugh and gossip together. The majority of people are disgusted by what has happened. America is not a racist country, and I will stand by this fact. But there are absolutely racists in this country. Was racism at the center of this? It seems very likely.
Couple their careless assumption based on appearances with their vigilante ‘citizen’s arrest’ motive and you get a perfect storm of “this black guy is totally guilty and I’m going to do something about it.”
Fast Facts and Inconsistencies
Let’s gather some facts to blow common misunderstandings out of the water.
In spite of claims of multiple break ins: the only reported theft in the past two months was in front of the McMichael house. (8)
Gregory had been retired for around a year from being a detective at the time of the incident. (5)
Travis doesn’t seem to have a job. No one says, but at the very least, he didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps as no one ever talks about ties to him being a problem. (all)
We also know that while the non-emergency line was called before the chase began, 911 wasn’t called until the conflict was underway. (3) Which is really weird if they were planning to hold Arbery for police. If it’s not an emergency, it’s not high on the list. And with roughly 8 minutes passing between calls with no response to a decent neighborhood(3), I think it’s safe to say the police hadn’t rushed over for “snooping black man running down the street.”
Despite him having a gun, Gregory didn’t have his drawn as far as we can see in the video. In fact, he is clearly on the call with 911 until just before the second shot where he drops his phone and reaches for his gun that doesn’t seem to go off. (7)
The detail that struck me the most was Travis’s move during the moment the camera was panned down. Middle of the road to boom: at the front of the truck. And remember, Arbery was putting distance between them. (7)
There were three shots, but only two were reported. (7,6)
Arbery made physical contact with Travis after the first shot. (7)
The McMichaels use the citizen’s arrest defense but a retired cop should have known that without an active felony a citizen’s arrest wouldn’t hold up. (5)
As I go through this, I keep finding more questions that I can’t answer. It’s hard to be patient, especially when the case is moving so slowly. And that’s our last topic.
Why is this taking so long?
Gregory’s former job has had a major impact on the case and its prosecution, if not from the police taking his word verbatim on that day, then absolutely from the debacle with the DA’s office.
The first DA recursed herself because she used to work with Gregory. (1) However, the second one, AG Barnhill waited for at least 3-4 weeks past the time he knew his son worked at the same office as the first DA[and therefore likely with McMichael] to recuse himself(9), which was after the mother of the victim insisted he do so (5).
He writes a letter about it in which he is a passive aggressive creep. He belittles the mother’s concerns, insists it’s all nonsense, then ,despite the fact that this is his recusal letter, he gives his opinion about how he wasn’t planning on prosecuting if he hadn’t been forced to step down. (5)
So for our last step, let’s pick this apart and see why Ahmaud’s mother made the right call, and how the case might actually go once it reaches the courts.
His first point is that he’s a super experienced lawyer man. He’s done SO MANY cases just like this one and that means he knows what he’s talking about. His second point is that the autopsy backs up the other evidence and shows they don’t need to arrest anyone. (5) Are we watching the same videos? Did we read the same report?
His third point is to list the civilian arrest law and that he disagrees with my assessment that it’s a dumb excuse. His reason? They were in their neighborhood, had probable cause, asked him to stop, and “appeared to intend” to hold him for police. (5) Police who were only eventually going to show up because they didn’t call 911 until things got out of hand and he wouldn’t stop for them. (3,7)
Next he tackles the issue of those guns. He claims they were just open carrying in Travis’s truck and therefore compliant with the law.
OCGA 16-11-126 a) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or long gun on his or her property or inside his or her home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license.Open carry law, Source 5
(b) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a long gun without a valid weapons carry license, provided that if the long gun is loaded, it shall only be carried in an open and fully exposed manner.”
That sounds good, though I don’t know that posed in the street somewhere in your neighborhood counts as on your property. But let’s give them this one for now. They are within their rights to have a gun. I agree with the second amendment, and they didn’t hide the shotgun.
Then the fifth point. OH boy the fifth point. The fifth point is where he walks us through his not at all biased view of events. I’m going to go through them verbatim. (5)
From said video it appears Ahmaud Arbery was running along the right side of the McMichael truck then abruptly turns 90 degrees to the left and attacks Travis McMichael who was standing at the front left corner of the truck.Barnhill Recusal Letter, Source 5
Hey buddy, you skipped the part where Travis ran from the middle of the other lane of the road to his place in front of the truck. You also forgot to mention that being on the right side was from Arbery moving away from Travis in the first place. (7)
A brief skirmish ensues in which it appears Arbery strikes McMichael and appears to grab the shotgun and pull it from McMichael. The shot is through Arbery’s right hand palm which is consistent with him grabbing and pulling the shotgun at the barrel tip,Barnhill Recusal Letter, Source 5
Umm… No, it’s not. It is NOT consistent with grabbing and pulling. What it IS consistent with is what we see in the video, him throwing up his hand as he is shot in the first instance before he has even had a chance to reach Travis. (7) Are we actually meant to believe that a man steals a gun by cupping his hand over the barrel opening? No, not even close. This is the autopsy debunking you by showing the first strike was a defensive wound.
…the angle of the 2nd shot with the rear of the buttstock being pushed away and down from the fight are also consistent with the upward angle of blood plume shown in the video and that McMichael was attempting to push the gun away from Arbery while Arbery was pulling it toward himself. The 3rd shot too appears to be in a struggle over the gun.Barnhill Recusal Letter, Source 5
He doesn’t get as descriptive with these shots aside from: dude trust me. But what little he does give can be confirmed, they were fighting by this point. (7) And there were two more shots which proves they filed a false police report (6).
Given the fact Arbery initiated the fight, at the point Arbery grabbed the shotgun, under Georgia Law, McMichael was allowed to use deadly force to protect himself.Barnhill Recusal Letter, Source 5
Arbery started the fight when he grabbed the gun? Really? The fight didn’t start when three older men decided they had a right to chase him down because he had maybe pocketed something? The fight didn’t start when they continued to pursue him when he turned around to get away from them? The fight didn’t start when they posted themselves in the road to prevent him from getting away? The fight didn’t start when Travis chased him again and shot him when he raised his hand to block or push away the barrel? But no, the fight happened when he made contact with the gun and started punching after the first shot had been fired. Let’s see what the self-defense laws have to say.
OCGA 16-3-21 Use of Force in Defense, once confronted with a deadly force situation an individual is allowed to use deadly force to defend themselves or others. OCGA 16-3-23.1 Georgia’s No Duty to Retreat Law, an individual is not required to back away from or submit to an attack; OCGA 16-3-24[b] The use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to prevent trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with real property other than a habitation or personal property is not justified unless the person using such force reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. OCGA 16-3-24.2 A person properly and legally defending themselves is immune from prosecutionBarnhill Recusal Letter, Source 5
Oh look, you gave the exact reason you should prosecute as the reason you don’t think it’s justified. Oopsie.
Use of deadly force to PREVENT trespass is NOT justified unless the person thinks it can prevent a forcible felony. (5)
“But.. But… habitation and personal properties are exceptions!”
- It’s not their property.
- He’s already left the premises. They can’t prevent something that has already happened.
- Also, again, a felony is required to be part of this. Once he has left the house empty handed, no felony possible.
Now, what about backing away from a fight and having the right to defend yourself once a deadly conflict has started? (5) Well, if anything the one who that applies to is Ahmaud having the right to try to take the gun after a man unlawfully tries to detain him to the point of running at him with a bloody shotgun. But there’s another piece of this puzzle that Barnhill, with no bias mind you, skipped over.
Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses § 16-3-21 (b) A person is not justified in using force under the circumstances specified in subsection (a) of this Code section if he: (1) Initially provokes the use of force against himself with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant; (2) Is attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony; or (3) Was the aggressor or was engaged in a combat by agreement unless he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so and the other, notwithstanding, continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force.When you can’t claim Self-defense, Source 10
Don’t know about you, but I think we have pretty much concluded by this point that Travis stalking up gun in hand while Arbery was trying to get around him (7), which he had already supposedly done once without attacking (6), was Travis instigating the fight. And there is no way you can come up on someone, gun raised and finger on the trigger, without the intent to use it to cause harm. (7) That sounds an awful lot like Travis creating a situation where he would have an excuse to use the gun.
So that’s strike one. What about part two? Don’t think it applies? Me either, until I remembered a little something called:
Georgia Code § 16-5-41 – False Imprisonment (a) A person commits the offense of false imprisonment when, in violation of the personal liberty of another, he arrests, confines, or detains such person without legal authority.What it’s called when you make a fake citizen’s arrest, Source 11
And gee, if we look back up there at the citizen’s arrest laws where you need to have proof or probable cause of an immediate felony taking place (5) and compare it to the likelihood that at most that day someone who was not Travis(4,6) saw Ahmaud commit a misdemeanor (2) then it shows that all three men were, in trying to hold him against his will, guilty of attempting false imprisonment. Which…
In some states, like Georgia, Washington and Florida, false imprisonment is always charged as a felony.What kind of crime false imprisonment is, Source 12
So, with Travis attempting to commit a felony (11,12), that means part two of the self-defense exceptions–can’t use if you’re trying to commit a felony– also applies here! (10) Strike 2.
And lastly, you can’t claim self-defense if you are the aggressor. (10) I think I hammered that point home well enough by now. Strike three. Bada bing, bada boom, the self-defense laws don’t apply to any of you.
Gee, there sure are a lot of laws that instantly point to this being everyone but Ahmaud’s fault. I wonder how a humble shadow can figure that out but a DA who has a paragraph of experience completely overlooked it? Do you think the work relationship that he belittles the victim’s mother for accusing him of having might be related? Let me answer and close out this article with one more quote, and let you decide.
Just as importantly, while we know McMichael had his finger on the trigger, we do not know who caused the firings. Arbery would only had [sic] to pull the shotgun approximately 1/16th to 1/8th of one inch to fire the weapon himself and in the height of an altercation this is entirely possible.Barnhill accusing the victim of shooting himself, Source 5