June 6, 2020 – Travis McMichael, one of the men charged with the killing of an unarmed Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was heard saying a racial slur moments after shooting Arbery dead.
At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, GBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial testified that defendant William Bryan told police he had heard Travis McMichael say “f***ing n—–” after Arbery suffered 3 shotgun blasts and lay bleeding to death on the street.
After 7 hours of testimonials and hearings, the judge ruled that all three defendants- Travis McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and William “Roddie” Bryan — would stand trial on all charges.
Arbery, a beloved high school football standout, was killed on Feb. 23 in Brunswick, a small city on the southern coast of Georgia; He lived with his mother and was known to live an active lifestyle that included frequent jogs in the neighborhood.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34 chased Arbery as he jogged down the road that day, later claiming that they had thought him to be the burglar responsible for a string of break-ins in the local area.
The elaborate chase included a third individual, William Bryan, who Dial said rammed Arbery with the side of his truck as he tried to escape. A test conducted by investigators on the rear door of Bryan’s truck yielded a swipe of a palm print that they, “attribute to contact with Mr. Arbery.”
Body camera footage taken of the scene showed a Confederate flag sticker on the toolbox of McMichael’s truck; Additionally, resurfaced messages and social media activity provided proof of the plentiful use of the racial slur by McMichael before the shooting―once even going as far as to say that things would be better if someone had “blown that N-word’s head off;” Dial was unaware of who McMichael was referring to in that instance and was not asked for context.
Bryan, additionally, had messages on his phone that included racial slurs and suggested that the killing of Arbery was on a racist premise; In a statement made about Bryan by Dial during the hearing he states, “He saw a man running down the road with a truck following him, and I believe he made certain assumptions that were, at least in part, based upon his racial bias.”
Wanda Cooper, Arbery’s mother, expressed her devastation to CNN’s Chris Cuomo after hearing the testimony of Dial.
“I often imagine the last minutes of my son’s life. I didn’t imagine it would be that harsh, but to learn that that statement was made in the last seconds of his life …” Cooper stated, “it was very heartbreaking.”
The Justice Department has begun a hate crime investigation into the case despite the attorneys of the men insisting upon their innocence.
DOJ spox on the Ahmaud Arbery case: "We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate. ... We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law." pic.twitter.com/ozSw6ubhTw— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) May 11, 2020