Prosecutors, defendants paint contrasting portraits of Ahmaud Arbery
- Ahmaud Arbery's murder trial began on Friday
- Prosecutors said Arbery was an innocent Black runner fatally shot by three white strangers
- Defendants said he was "a scary mystery" who had been prowling around Georgia
As Ahmaud Arbery's murder trial began on Friday, prosecutors and defence attorneys presented two contrasting portraits of the man, who was either an innocent Black runner fatally shot by three white strangers or "a scary mystery" who had been seen prowling around a Georgia neighbourhood.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said in her opening statement that the brief cellphone video that sparked national outrage over Arbery's death only showed a glimpse of the attack on the 25-year-old, who had given his pursuers no cause to accuse him of any crime.
"They assumed that he must have committed some crime that day," Dunikoski said, according to Associated Press. "He tried to run around their truck and get way from these strangers, total strangers, who had already told him that they would kill him. And then they killed him."
The defense lawyer representing Travis McMichael, the guy who shot Arbery three times, cast a different spin on the incident. Arbery was presented to the jury by attorney Robert Rubin as an "intruder" who had been seen on film four times "plundering around" an adjacent property under renovation.
McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, gave chase, hoping to detain Arbery until police arrived, Rubin said, but Arbery refused to stop and lunged toward McMichael and his gun.
"It is a horrible, horrible video, and it’s tragic that Ahmaud Arbery lost his life," Rubin said. "But at that point, Travis McMichael is acting in self-defense. He did not want to encounter Ahmaud Arbery physically. He was only trying to stop him for the police."
Arbery’s killing on February 23, 2020 did not make any noise until the video leaked and deepened a national reckoning over racial injustice.
On that Sunday afternoon, the McMichaels armed themselves and chased Arbery through their area, just outside the port city of Brunswick, in a pickup vehicle. The chase was joined by a neighbour, William “Roddie” Bryan, who captured graphic footage of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun.
With inputs from the Associated Press