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Brandon Tatum, a former Tucson police officer who has six years of experience under his belt, shared a video laying out the known facts in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Warning that “people have jumped to conclusions and picked a side” with limited information, Tatum said many of these same people are going to be walking around with “egg on their face.”
With people quick to make the incident about race — Arbery, a black man, was shot and killed by a white father and son, who suspected him of burglary — Tatum urged people not to pick sides.
“You need to go with the facts and information that you have available and also, if you have a level of expertise, use your common sense and expertise,” he said.
In the face of the narrative that Arbery was “just a jogger” gunned down because he was black, Tatum pointed out that there’s no evidence to support the idea that he was out for a jog, other than Arbery’s mother suggesting as much.
He includes surveillance footage showing Arbery walking along the street — a second video would show him entering a home under construction.
But Tatum shared an important detail as he describes what is seen in the footage.
“This is not a construction site like people would envision, where there’s just a frame on a house and there’s no real construction,” he explained. “This is a fully — nearly a fully built house that happened to have been renovated and nobody’s living there.”
Tatum said Arbery “looks both ways to see if anybody’s watching him or can see him,” before entering the garage of the home.
Pointing to the second video, he adds that “there is no evidence to rule out if he had actually taken something, or attempted to take something or not.”
Clarifying that the property is considered a dwelling, he then cites Georgia law.
“If a person enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony or theft, that person is responsible for first-degree burglary,” Tatum stated. “First-degree burglary in Georgia law is a felony.”
He also adds that in the court of law, it’s reasonable to assume that if Arbery is looking around, he’s not trying to envision what his couch would look like in the home.
Tatum also points out that when a neighbor is seen coming down his driveway across the street — the former police officer said there is evidence that this neighbor yelled at whoever was in the house — Arbery is seen sprinting from the property.
Turning his attention to Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, the men who would confront Arbery, Tatum makes another critical observation.
The McMichaels had called 911 before pursuing Arbery, and he said that they told the dispatcher that they visibly see Arbery in the unoccupied structure and that while on the call, they see him running out of the house.
This is when they give chase, Tatum said.
Again, citing Georgia law, he said that “if you witness a person, or you have first-hand knowledge — or they say immediate knowledge — of a crime and it’s a felony, you can pursue and conduct a citizen’s arrest.”
“So Georgia law gives Greg and Travis McMichael lawful reason, or lawful ability, to conduct the citizen’s arrest on Mr. Arbery, who they have witnessed commit a crime,” Tatum said.
Turning to the video of the encounter, Tatum established that the McMichaels were within their rights to be armed. He also established that once a physical altercation between Arbery and Travis begins, both men have a right to self-defense — which, in Travis’ case, he said, may very well include deadly force.
As seen in the video, as Arbery goes around McMichaels’ pick up truck, he and Travis begin struggling for the shotgun Travis was holding.
Tatum was emphatic that he was not deciding who was right or wrong in the case, or who is guilty or not guilty, only that people need to look at the facts.
“I am tired of people lying and being emotional, whether it’s intentional or not, about a case in which they have not researched,” he said. “And about individuals whom they do not know and never met.”
In effect, Tatum is calling on people to set aside emotion, set aside race, and go with the facts and the evidence at hand. He also reminded folks that while the McMichaels have been arrested for murder, they are innocent until proven guilty.
“If you ask me my personal opinion, based on my training and experience, I do not think they’re going to be found guilty of murder,” he concluded.
On that note, Candace Owens, who set off a firestorm when she discounted the media narrative that Arbery was “just a jogger,” while urging black people to stop taking the bait, came to that same conclusion.
“I can tell you right now, no matter how upset you are, this is not going to amount to a murder charge,” she insisted.
People don’t call 911 before they murder someone, Owens observed, adding “obviously something went wrong.”
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