Travis McMichael, the guy who shot Ahmaud Arbery to dying after hunting down him through a suburban Georgia neighborhood, testified in his own defense on Wednesday, claiming that pointing his weapon at Mr. Arbery was an attempt to “de-escalate” the scenario, a tactic he learned while serving in the United States Coast Guard.
“From what I’ve learned in my training, pulling a firearm on someone generally tells them to back off,” Mr. McMichael said, characterizing it as “compelled compliance.”
Mr. McMichael characterized the meeting as “life or death,” and he assumed Mr. Arbery was an intruder who could have been armed. There is no proof that Mr. Arbery was carrying a firearm.
Mr. Arbery, according to Mr. McMichael, was overwhelming him when he finally squeezed the gun.
“I shot again because I was still struggling,” he said during his testimony. “He has been all over me, and he was still all around this shotgun, and he wasn’t leaving.”
Mr. Arbery slumped after a third shot, according to footage.
“I was stunned,” Mr. McMichael remarked.
He described the encounter as “the most heinous occurrence of my life.”
When his lawyer asked if he had left his residence that day with the intention of killing Mr. Arbery, he said, “I did not.”
According to the defense team, the individuals suspected Mr. Arbery of perpetrating a number of local break-ins. He had been seen on security camera video multiple times at a nearby property under construction.
“It was constant,” he stated. “Every few of months, you’d hear about something new, something new.”
“He was enraged,” Mr. McMichael explained. “Which led me to believe that anything had occurred. It’s not what I was expecting.”
“This dude is clearly – something is wrong,” he continued. “He appears to be harmful to me.”
“I stood up, realized I had a gun here, that he’d died, and that the cops were on the way,” Mr. McMichael recounted, his voice faltering as he reached tears. “So, I stepped over to the side and laid down my shotgun.” It was all a haze after that.”
Mr. McMichael is scheduled to testify again on Thursday morning.
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