A young black man filmed by a security camera walking through a home under construction in December and in February may have stopped at the site for a drink of water, according to an attorney for the homeowner thrust into the investigation of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery was killed Feb. 23 in a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves after the 25-year-old black man ran past their yard just outside the port city of Brunswick. Right before the chase, Arbery was recorded inside an open-framed home being built on the same street.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed on murder charges since May 7. The elder McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood. He also said Arbery attacked his son before he was shot.
Arbery’s mother has said she believes her son was merely out jogging.
On Friday, an attorney for the owner of the house under construction released three security camera videos taken Dec. 17, more than two months before the shooting. They show a black man in a T-shirt and shorts at the site. In the final clip, he walks a few steps toward the road, then starts running at a jogger’s pace.
“It now appears that this young man may have been coming onto the property for water,” J. Elizabeth Graddy, the attorney for homeowner Larry English, said in a statement. “There is a water source at the dock behind the house as well as a source near the front of the structure. Although these water sources do not appear within any of the cameras’ frames, the young man moves to and from their locations.”
A man in similar clothes appears briefly in another security video taken at the home construction site Feb. 11, less than two weeks before the shooting. Graddy said that person appears to be the same man shown in the Dec. 17 videos.
It is not known if Arbery is the person shown in any of the videos taken prior to Feb. 23, when the shooting occurred.
Defense lawyers for Gregory McMichael said Friday that they have examined evidence that “tells a very different story” about Arbery and the two men charged with killing him. Attorney Laura Hogue told reporters: “There is more than one video of the incident.”
She did not give any specifics. A roughly 40-second cellphone video of the shooting was leaked online last week, a day before the McMichaels were charged the felony murder and aggravated assault. The video fueled a national outcry not just over the killing but also that more than two months passed before arrests were made.
Attorney Franklin Hogue, hired to defend Gregory McMichael along with his law partner wife, said more details would be revealed at a preliminary court hearing that he plans to request soon.
“The truth will reveal this is not just another act of violent racism,” Franklin Hogue told a news conference outside the couple’s Macon office. “Greg McMichael did not commit murder. Greg McMichael is not a party to the crime of murder.”
Attorneys for Arbery’s parents have said security camera video from the same home construction site Feb. 23 shows Arbery on the property right before the shooting. They also say the footage shows Arbery committing no crimes.
English has said nothing was ever stolen from his property. Graddy said his security cameras had recorded “numerous clips of persons entering the property” and shared two clips that showed a pair of children riding bicycles up to the home and then walking inside.
“There were frequently people on the construction site both day and night,” attorneys for Arbery’s parents said in a statement Friday. “Ahmaud Arbery seems to be the only one who was presumed to be a criminal and ultimately the only one murdered based on that assumption.”
Travis McMichael, 34, called 911 to report a possible trespasser on English’s property the night of Feb. 11, less than two weeks before Arbery was shot. He described a “black male, red shirt and white shorts.”
“When I turned around and saw him and backed up, he reached into his pocket and ran into the house,” Travis McMichael told the 911 operator. “So I don’t know if he’s armed or not. But he looked like, he was acting like he was.”