The new revelations were made during a preliminary hearing by Richard Dial, an assistant special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). The state agency was tapped to take the lead on investigating the February 23 killing in early May, months after the case was sidelined.
During the hearing, Dial testified that both Travis and his father Gregory McMichael, alongside William “Roddie” Bryan, used their two vehicles to repeatedly chase down and attempt to box in Arbery, as he desperately tried to evade his attackers by running in a different direction and momentarily jumping into a ditch.
Recalling remarks made by Bryan during initial questioning, Dial noted that Bryan had told investigators that moments after Travis fired three fatal shots at Arbery, the younger McMichael called Arbery a “f**king n****r” as he lay dying on the ground. Although the GBI probe was initiated on May 9, Dial stated that he did not become aware of the statement until May 13.
Additional investigation by the GBI into Travis’ background revealed that he had used the racial slur on multiple occasions, once remarking that he enjoyed his time working as a US Coast Guard boarding officer because he was “on a boat and there weren’t any N-words anywhere,” Dial testified.
The hearing has also revealed that rather than alerting local law enforcement, the McMichaels opted to grab their firearms and chase after Arbery after he walked through a construction area, The McMichaels at that time had assumed that Arbery was linked to robberies that had been reported in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Glynn County, Georgia.
Having seen the McMichaels taking action, Bryan followed suit, jumping into his own vehicle to pursue in the chase, according to Dial. Like the McMichaels, Bryan did not call the authorities. Footage captured by Bryan reportedly showed his truck making contact with Arbery momentarily.
With the McMichaels’ car parked and Bryan in pursuit, Arbery briefly engaged in a struggle with Travis as he attempted to run away from the gun-toting McMichaels, Dial detailed. Arbery died at the scene after Travis discharged his firearm three times, having been hit in the center and upper left portion of his chest and on his right wrist.
Travis claimed that he shot Arbery two additional times because he’d been struck by him; however, Dial said that Travis did not exhibit any visible injuries.
In describing the McMichaels’ pursuit of Arbery, Dial said: “They decided he was someplace he wasn’t supposed to be and they were trying to catch him.”
Having reviewed the evidence, Dial further noted that Arbery “ran until he could not anymore,” and that when “he felt like he could not escape, he chose to fight.” Arbery, who often ran near the Satilla Shores neighborhood, was roughly two miles from his home when he was killed.
Both McMichaels are charged with murder and aggravated assault, whereas Bryan, who recorded much of the events that unfolded, was charged with felony murder and attempting to commit false imprisonment. It’s unclear if Lindsay McMichael, a relative of Travis and Gregory McMichael, will face legal repercussions for sharing unedited content of Arbery’s body on Snapchat.
All three cases are being handled by District Attorney Joyette Holmes of the Peach State’s Cobb County District Attorney’s Office. Judge Wallace E. Harrell, who presided over the preliminary hearing that is intended to determine whether probable cause exists for the charges placed against the three defendants, later ruled that the evidence presented is sufficient for the charges to meet the probable cause threshold.
The Arbery case drew nationwide outrage after cellphone footage shot by Bryan was leaked on social media. The disturbing incident has been described as a "modern-day lynching."
A separate investigation into the shooting is being led by the US Department of Justice, which is weighing whether to consider it a hate crime.