Nov 17, 2021 - News
Travis McMichael takes stand to tell his "side of the story"
Travis McMichael, defendant in murder trial
Photo: Stephen B. Morton/Getty

Travis McMichael, the 35-year-old white man who shot Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man in Brunswick, Georgia, nearly two years ago, took the stand at his murder trial to tell “my side of the story.”

Why it matters: Neither McMichael nor his father and co-defendant, Greg McMichael, has spoken publicly since the video of Arbery’s killing went viral in May 2020. Both have been on trial for murder charges for about a month, alongside their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan.

What’s happening: The prosecution rested its case against the three defendants on Tuesday after eight days. The defense called McMichael as its first witness Wednesday.

Breaking it down: McMichael, while questioned by his defense attorney, outlined his de-escalation and arms training with the Coast Guard and how he said he relied on those principles during his encounter with Arbery.

  • McMichael said on the day of the killing that he identified Arbery as the same man who had been seen in a nearby house under construction earlier that month.
  • McMichael said he shot Arbery because Arbery was running toward him, and because Arbery grabbed his shotgun.
“I shot him. He had my gun. He struck me. It was obvious that he was attacking me, that if he would have got the shotgun from me, it was a life-or-death situation and I’m going to have to stop him from doing this, so I shot.”
— Travis McMichael

The other side: The state, in the beginning of its cross-examination, suggested McMichael also violated some of his Coast Guard training by chasing someone to try to force him to talk to him and by displaying his weapon.

  • The state also questioned McMichael about past instances in which McMichael and his father investigated suspicious activity independent of the police.

State of play: The state will continue cross-examining McMichael Thursday.

  • It’s the same day several hundred Black pastors are expected to convene at the courthouse after comments from a defense attorney that “we don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here” last week, in response to the presence of Al Sharpton in the courtroom. Sharpton in turn called on pastors to join him at the courthouse.
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