Breaking News
More () »

'It was life or death:' Emotional Travis McMichael talks about shooting Ahmaud Arbery, struggle over gun

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, who recorded the video, are all charged with murder in Arbery's death.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — **WARNING: Videos contained in this article may be disturbing to some.

The ninth day of testimony in the trial in the death of Ahmaud Arbery continues Wednesday in Brunswick, with the defense beginning to call its first witnesses.

Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020. Cellphone video leaked to the public shows two armed white men in a truck approaching the 25-year-old Black man as he runs down the road. One of the men, later identified as Travis McMichael, and Arbery struggle over McMichael's shotgun before Arbery is shot and collapses.

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, who recorded the video, are all charged with murder in Arbery's death.

Watch the full day of court here:


5 p.m.: Court has ended for the day.

4:33 p.m.: State now cross-examining

4:30 p.m.: Travis McMichael’s defense wants to ensure the state doesn’t ask Travis McMichael about allegedly using the N-word while standing over Ahmaud Arbery, says the only witness is Roddie Bryan who is not going to testify, therefore no “good faith reason” to introduce.

4:10 p.m.: Travis is crying describing his "shock" after realizing he killed Arbery, said it was "a blur"

4:07 p.m.: Travis starts crying on the stand describing what he says was struggle over his shotgun with Arbery, thought Arbery had his gun, "I was thinking of my son ... it was life or death," Travis said he had to shoot Arbery  

3:58 p.m.: Travis said Arbery was "closing in" on him as Travis raised his shotgun, and he was pretty sure Arbery was going to attack as Arbery ran towards him. Said he wouldn't have time to react if Arbery pulled a gun on him

3:51 p.m.: Travis said he didn't see cops there yet, reached for his phone to call 911, looked down the road and saw Arbery running back towards him. Travis yells "stop right there," said Arbery made eye contact with him and got closer, so Travis grabbed for his shotgun

3:46 p.m.: Travis said Arbery looked like he was trying to get into Roddie Bryan's truck.

3:29 p.m.: Travis testifies he told Arbery "hey the police are on the way" and said Arbery ran as soon as he said that. Travis said concerning to him that Arbery did something and was trying to avoid the police, "well obviously" Travis said

3:24 p.m.: Arbery seemed mad, clenched teeth, furrowed brow, Travis says made him think something was wrong, not what he expected. Said Arbery never said a word to him.

3:22 p.m. Travis says he told Arbery "stop please stop" Sheffield asks if he said "please," Travis said "I'm sure I did," Wanda Cooper-Jones throws head back as in disbelief 

3:21 p.m.: Travis said pulls up next to Arbery, he asks Arbery "hey what're you doing? What's going on?" Travis said he was trying to deescalate and knew "it could go either way," Arbery's mother shaking head

3:20 p.m.: Travis had shotgun, put it between seats in truck, he said. Rode thr brake around neighborhood, he said, recognized Arbery from home under construction, recognized Arbery's haircut

3:10 p.m.: Travis said he was in his house trying to get his son to take a nap day of shooting. Said his dad ran inside home and said the same guy who has been breaking into home under construction just ran by their house, told Travis to grab his gun

3 p.m.: Court resumes.

2:50 p.m.: Court takes recess.

2:40 p.m.: Travis' 911 call played for court. Travis heard breathing very heavily. Sheffield asks him about how he sounds on call: "I was still scared. I was breathing heavy," Travis says

2:39 p.m.: When Arbery reaches into waistband area, Travis says he drove away "it freaked me out ... it startled me ... I was getting the hell out of there." Wanda Cooper-Jones seen shaking her head in court. Travis called 911, told dispatcher Arbery may be armed.

2:38 p.m.: Travis says he shined his car lights on him pointing at the port-a-potties where Arbery was. Travis says he got out of his car to ask Arbery what he was doing, Arbery came over "pulls up his shirt and goes to reach in the waistband area," Travis says thought Arbery was armed.

2:37 p.m.: Feb. 11, 2020, 7:30 p.m.: Travis says went to fill up his car, saw someone run across street near home under construction, saw man later identified as Arbery "he was creeping from the shadows"

2:16 p.m.: Travis McMichael testified Coast Guard taught him “if you pull a gun on someone … usually that causes people to back off.”  

1:58 p.m.: Travis McMichael testifies that his Coast Guard training taught him to use a gun to deescalate a situation. "If you pull a gun on someone . .usually that causes people to back off.

1:43 p.m.: Sheffield: "is it your goal to escalate situations?" Travis: "no absolutely not" said he would give verbal commands first and don't want things to go south  

1:25 p.m.: Travis McMichael discusses his previous experience in the Coast Guard. Is questioned about his background and any connections to law enforcement. He is asked, "what are the types of law enforcement things you did in the Coast Guard?" Defense hoping to play on this.

1:10 p.m.: Travis McMichael takes the stand. He is accused of shooting Ahmaud Arbery with a shotgun. 

12:10 p.m.: Recess for lunch

12:05 p.m.: Attorney Bob Rubin asks the judge to keep an eye on juror number 12 whom he says has been nodding off repeatedly throughout the trial. She’s a white woman.

RELATED: 'I watched her nodding off' | Attorney for accused Ahmaud Arbery killer tells judge juror falling asleep

11:48 a.m.: Gough shows a picture of the front of Bryan's home taken on another day (not day of shooting) and says it looks like something out of "Norman Rockwell painting." Gough paints Bryan as an innocent man working on his porch, listening to music on the day of the shooting, who didn't know what was going on.

11:32 a.m.: Gough gives opening statements for Roddie Bryan. He starts opening statements that he reserved right to do after state rested case. Starts by showing video from Bryan's porch camera day of shooting. 

11:15 a.m.: Judge denies motion.

11:14 a.m.: NEW: Gough files another motion for mistrial saying who is in the courtroom, specifically calling out Rev. Jesse Jackson again, haven't allowed for fair trial. Sheffield says not joining motion, but thinks Jackson should be in overflow room.

11:11 a.m.: Attorneys with the McMichaels said they decline to say if their Greg and Travis will testify right now. Judge swears them in in case they decide to testify. Judge swears in William Roddie Bryan too. Bryan won't say yet if he'll testify either

11 a.m.: Court resumes.

10:50 a.m.: Court takes a short recess

10 a.m.: Dunikoski arguing facts/emotions more than law, does not appear to be addressing Hogue's specific legal challenges to the felony murder counts. Just argues "but for" their actions Arbery would be alive. Very animated, a strong contrast with Hogue's placid style. 

9:28 a.m.: Outside the courthouse, Rabbis from the human rights organization T'ruah, including the rabbi of Brunswick's only synagogue, announce they will gather for a prayer breakfast Thursday, followed by a demonstration of solidarity with Brunswick-area interfaith leaders

RELATED: Rabbis to join chorus of clergy supporting unity during death of Ahmaud Arbery trial

9:24 a.m.: Gregory McMichael's attorney, Franklin Hogue, asks for directed verdict of acquittal on malice murder charge for Greg and Travis McMichael. Says that's a specific intent to kill and says it doesn't apply.

9:21 a.m.: He says asking a jury to find someone guilty of malice murder (intentional) and also ask them to find someone guilty of felony murder (unintentional) is "inconsistent." Says the judge should eliminate Count 1.

9:19 a.m.: He says a secondary interpretation requires the defendant show "an abandoned and malignant heart" -- Medieval language he says only still exists in the law of Georgia and 3 other states @FCN2go #AhmaudArbery

9:17 a.m.: Day begins with Greg McMichael's attorney Frank Hogue challenging the first count in the indictment, malice murder. He says that's a specific intent to kill i.e. "death was not an unintended consequence." The defense contends charge does not apply.

9 a.m.: Court is scheduled to resume, with Bryan's defense attorney Kevin Gough scheduled to present his opening statement, the timing of which he specifically requested at the start of the trial. Then, the defense will begin to call its witnesses. The judge is expected to ask the defendants if they are going to take the stand.

8 a.m.: A prayer vigil is taking place outside the courtroom, hosted by the Better Together Coalition and Glynn Clergy for Equity.

RELATED: State rests its case on Day 8 of testimony in trial of 3 men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery

RELATED: 'We're halfway done' | Ahmaud Arbery's mother says she's anxious, eager to hear defense's arguments

Before You Leave, Check This Out