Rev. Jesse Jackson, 100 church leaders to attend Ahmaud Arbery killing trial this week

Rev Jesse Jackson 100 church leaders to attend Ahmaud Arbery


Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson is holding a prayer vigil Monday morning at the Georgia courthouse where the seventh day of Ahmaud Arbery's (pictured) killing trial is underway

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson is holding a prayer vigil Monday morning at the Georgia courthouse where the seventh day of Ahmaud Arbery’s (pictured) killing trial is underway

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson is holding a prayer vigil Monday morning at the Georgia courthouse where the seventh day of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing trial is underway.

The defense began their cross-examination of Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Seacrist, who interviewed accused William ‘Roddie’ Bryan Jr. on at least two occasions, late Friday before court adjourned for the weekend. He is expected to take the stand in Brunswick Superior Court again Monday.

On Friday, Seacrist testified that Bryan, who videotaped the Arbery pursuit from his pickup truck, had an ‘instinct’ that Arbery had committed a crime.  

‘Because I figured he had done something wrong. I didn’t know for sure,’ Bryan said in a May interview with Seacrist, according to a transcript read aloud in court late Friday. ‘It was just instinct man, I don’t know. I figured he stole something.’    

Meanwhile, Rev. Jackson, 80, who has been hospitalized twice this year – once this month after suffering a fall while helping protestors at Howard University and in August as he battled a breakthrough COVID-19 infection – is returning to show his support for the Arbery family. 

Jackson’s expected attendance comes after Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough said in court Thursday: ‘We don’t want any more black pastors coming in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence a jury in this case.’ 

However, the pastor maintains he was ‘invited there last week by the defense attorney.’

Jason Sheffield, attorney for defendant Travis McMichael, called Gough’s comment ‘totally asinine. Ridiculous,’ and said, ‘In no way do we want to exclude anybody from this process.’ 

Also last week, national civil rights attorney Ben Crump shared that 100 pastors are expected outside of the courthouse this week to support Arbery’s family. 

‘The parents of Ahmaud Arbery suffered the unspeakable loss of their son, who was hunted down, cornered and shot, for being a black man jogging in a white neighborhood,’ Crump stated. 

‘It is not illegal or inappropriate for black pastors to be present to support the parents of Ahmaud or any other black victims. We are going to bring 100 black pastors to pray with the family next week, and we welcome all those who want to show their support and add their prayers to ours.’ 

Rev. Jesse Jackson is expected to hold a prayer vigil outside the Brunswick Superior Court on Monday. He, along with approximately 100 church leaders, will be at the court this week after defense attorney Kevin Gough said he wanted 'black pastors' banned for 'influencing the jury'

Rev. Jesse Jackson is expected to hold a prayer vigil outside the Brunswick Superior Court on Monday. He, along with approximately 100 church leaders, will be at the court this week after defense attorney Kevin Gough said he wanted ‘black pastors’ banned for ‘influencing the jury’

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Seacrist (pictured in court on Friday), who interviewed accused William 'Roddie' Bryan Jr. on at least two occasions, is also expected to take the stand again Monday

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Seacrist (pictured in court on Friday), who interviewed accused William ‘Roddie’ Bryan Jr. on at least two occasions, is also expected to take the stand again Monday

The court returns Monday after a dramatic week in which Georgia State prosecutors focused on destroying the defense claim that their clients were trying to make a lawful citizens’ arrest of a man they suspected of local burglaries. 

Ex-cop Gregory McMichael, 65, his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and Bryan are each charged in the death of Arbery, a 25-year-old black jogger who was fatally shot last year after he was spotted running in the defendants’ coastal Georgia neighborhood. 

The McMichaels and Bryan all deny charges of murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment for chasing Arbery down a residential street in their pick-up trucks, leading to him lying dead in the road after three shots were fired.

Their defense attorneys have been arguing Arbery was suspected of burglary after reports of thefts in the neighborhood – and the trio were trying to make the citizens’ arrest when the black man fought back in a tussle with Travis who was wielding a shotgun.

But Georgia State prosecutor Linda Dunikoski last week called witnesses to try to convince the jury the McMichaels were acting like vigilantes tracking down the mystery black man – and they ended up using deadly force.

The McMichaels were armed with a .357 Magnum handgun and the shotgun, the court heard. They began their chase when they spotted budding rapper Arbery running past their home on February 23 last year.

Unarmed neighbor Bryan, 52, joined the chase in his own truck after seeing the McMichaels’ pursuit – and would film the shocking cell phone footage of the deadly encounter only minutes away.

Ex-cop Gregory McMichael, 65, (center) his son, Travis McMichael, 35, (left) and William 'Roddie' Bryan Jr (right) are each charged in the death of Arbery

Ex-cop Gregory McMichael, 65, (center) his son, Travis McMichael, 35, (left) and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan Jr (right) are each charged in the death of Arbery

Defendant William 'Roddie' Bryan (pictured in court on Nov. 9) told Agent Seacrist he thought Arbery had done something wrong: 'I didn't know for sure. It was just instinct man, I don't know. I figured he stole something'

Defendant William ‘Roddie’ Bryan (pictured in court on Nov. 9) told Agent Seacrist he thought Arbery had done something wrong: ‘I didn’t know for sure. It was just instinct man, I don’t know. I figured he stole something’

Jurors have heard Gregory McMichael said Arbery was ‘trapped like a rat’ when the black jogger was finally confronted at the end of the chase. Glynn County Police detective sergeant Rod Nohilly took the stand and read out a portion of his interview with the accused.

McMichael, a former Glynn County cop and former investigator with the local district attorney’s office, told him: ‘He was trapped like a rat. I think he was wanting to flee and he realized that something, you know, he was not going to get away.’

He told the detective he and Travis had shouted for Arbery to stop, and added: ‘He was much faster than Travis would ever be.

‘He had opportunity to flee further you know. We had chased him around the neighborhood a bit but he wasn’t winded at all. I mean this guy was, he was in good shape.’

And in a transcript of an interview with Detective Parker Marcy which he read to the court, McMichael said: ‘I said stop. I’ll blow your f***ing head off, or something.

‘I was trying to convey to this guy we were not playing, you know.’

Gregory McMichael also told Glynn County Police officer Jeff Brandeberry: ‘The guy comes hauling a** down the street. I’m talking about dead run, he’s not jogging.’

‘So I haul my a** into my bedroom to get a .357 Magnum. I don’t take any chances.

‘To be perfectly honest with you, if I could have gotten a shot at the guy, I’d have shot him myself.’

He added: ‘That ain’t no shuffler. This guy’s an a**hole.’

Officer-worn body camera footage presented in court last Monday showed Gregory McMichael, 65, (left) consoling his son, Travis McMichael (right), after the 35-year-old shot Ahmaud Arbery

Officer-worn body camera footage presented in court last Monday showed Gregory McMichael, 65, (left) consoling his son, Travis McMichael (right), after the 35-year-old shot Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory McMichael (left) allegedly told police that he, his son (right) and their neighbor had Ahmaud Arbery (pictured on the pavement) 'trapped like a rat,' noting that the jogger 'knew he wasn't going to get away'

Gregory McMichael (left) allegedly told police that he, his son (right) and their neighbor had Ahmaud Arbery (pictured on the pavement) ‘trapped like a rat,’ noting that the jogger ‘knew he wasn’t going to get away’

In a police report of the shooting, Gregory McMichael alleged Arbery began fighting over the shotgun being held by Travis and there were two shots – although evidence has been given that there were three shots.

The McMichaels’ belief that Arbery was a burglary suspect was based on previous security footage showing him wandering around a partly-constructed house two homes away from their own in Satilla Drive.

Jurors at Brunswick Superior Court last week saw security videos of the young black man at the house on five occasions. Four of these were at night and one around lunchtime on the fateful day when he was chased to his death.

Arbery did not touch any items in the house being built by owner and construction boss Larry English on any of the five visits and nothing was stolen from the home when he was there, the court heard.

Glynn County Police patrol officer Robert Rash told jurors he had been trying to identify the then unidentified black man since being alerted to the first recorded visit to the waterfront property on October 25, 2019.

He said he planned to talk to Arbery about possible trespassing – not burglary – and just warn him to stay off the property. Any subsequent action or charge would be the decision of English, 51, he added.

Rash had shown the October 25 security video to Gregory McMichael during his inquiries in the neighborhood, he told the court.

Then 12 days before the black jogger was killed, Travis McMichael made a breathless night time 911 call saying he had confronted and ‘chased’ a black man at the house.

Glynn County police officer Robert Rash (bottom left) took the witness stand on the sixth day of trial on Friday. The cop responded to the scene after Travis called 911

Glynn County police officer Robert Rash (bottom left) took the witness stand on the sixth day of trial on Friday. The cop responded to the scene after Travis called 911 

Rash's bodycam footage showed the cop entering the home with his gun drawn after back-up officers had arrived

Rash’s bodycam footage showed the cop entering the home with his gun drawn after back-up officers had arrived

Travis, panting heavily, told the 911 operator he had ‘caught a guy running into a house being built’ the jury heard. ‘Black male, red shirt. He is in the house.’ He also said the man reached into his pocket and ‘could be armed’.

Rash attended the scene after being told by his dispatch there was a possible burglary in progress. Jurors were shown dramatic footage from his bodycam as he entered the house, his gun drawn and aimed in front of him with a flashlight leading the way. But Arbery was nowhere to be seen.

Back outside, the footage revealed both McMichaels trying to hunt down the mystery black man, with three neighbors also present. One of these was Matt Albenze, who jurors heard was to call the police non-emergency line on February 23 when he spotted Arbery at the house again.

As the officer and neighbors swapped information, the body cam reveals Gregory McMichael telling Rash: ‘Travis just walked down there’ referring to the back of the property and nearby homes. He adds: ‘He’s armed by the way.’

Rash told the court: ‘I was the first officer and on my arrival Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael were on the scene. I stood by for other officers to get there before proceeding to check the property for the unidentified male. I believe they (the McMichaels) told dispatch about having guns, but I didn’t see them brandishing guns.’

The officer said he viewed the McMichaels as witnesses and had no plans to deputize them.

Rash told the court he had put English in touch with Gregory McMichael, because he believed the latter could be a reliable witness if there was another situation at the house due to his law enforcement experience.

But during English’s four-hour pre-recorded video testimony at the trial, he denied McMichael was given any permission to hunt down anyone spotted there. 

A 45-second clip from October 25 (pictured) showed Arbery wandering around near the back of the house at night. Larry English, who was constructing his 'dream second home', called 911 to report a 'trespasser' who he suspected was 'maybe drunk or on drugs'

A 45-second clip from October 25 (pictured) showed Arbery wandering around near the back of the house at night. Larry English, who was constructing his ‘dream second home’, called 911 to report a ‘trespasser’ who he suspected was ‘maybe drunk or on drugs’

The 25-year-old is seen above at the same home on February 23, 2020 - the day he was chased and killed

The 25-year-old is seen above at the same home on February 23, 2020 – the day he was chased and killed

Prosecutor Pail Camarillo asked English: ‘At any point in time did you authorize the McMichael to ever confront anybody on your site?’

English replied: ‘No’. Camarillo followed up: ‘Or act on behalf of the police on your site.’ English said: ‘No’.

The married home owner, who said he was suffering from sarcoidosis – a serious condition of the heart and lungs – revealed he was building his ‘dream home’ and staying there in a camper around two weekends a month during construction. He lives 90 miles away in Douglas, Georgia.

He installed about eight security cameras at the site in 2019 after reports of people entering. Images were relayed to English’s cell phone after the motion sensors tripped.

Not all the visitors were Arbery, the court heard. Children were among the first spotted and on November 17, 2019, a white couple were captured on video entering the premises at night.



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