911 calls, incident reports shed light on previous issues in Glynn County neighborhood

Incident reports highlight issues in Satilla Shores
Incident reports highlight issues in Satilla Shores(WTOC)
Updated: May. 13, 2020 at 12:19 PM EDT
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GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC obtained 10 incident reports and radio communication logs from at least five prior 911 calls in Satilla Shores, the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed in February by armed homeowners.

The reports show neighbors and the property owner called 911 previously about someone inside a home under construction several times, but the homeowner alluded to seeing different people inside the home at different times, undercutting the McMichaels’ claim that Arbery matched a description of a burglary suspect.

Of the reports, none are listed as burglaries. The only reported theft happened on Jan. 1 and involved a gun getting stolen from Travis McMichael’s unlocked truck.

The first 911 call came on Oct. 25 and is classified as a trespass. The homeowner, Larry English, called 911 because someone was inside the home, and it activated cameras. The call lasted about 13 minutes and ended when the unidentified man walked off the property without taking anything.

The next call came nearly a month later on Nov. 18. English called again about someone inside and reportedly told dispatch, “he had the same issue with different people last night” indicating it isn’t the same person always inside. This call lasted about 20 minutes and ended with the officer changing it from a trespassing to extra watch, indicating officers would check the property.

The third call is on Jan. 1. Travis McMichael said someone stole a pistol from his unlocked truck; no suspect description is provided in the rather short CAD log and incident report.

The fourth call happened over a month later on Feb. 11 around 7:30 p.m. and shows that Travis McMichael got in his truck to see whoever it was inside the home. McMichael told police he watched the man run across several properties and back into the home under construction. Responding officers searched but found no one. In this report, homeowner Larry English is quoted as saying, “it appears the unknown male is only trespassing and plundering around as he has yet to see where anything has been taken.”

Video of the Feb. 11 trespassing provided by Larry English:

The final call came on Feb. 23, the day Arbery was killed. A neighbor called 911 around 1:15 p.m. about someone inside the home. Another neighbor called 911 and is heard yelling at the person to “stop”, but the caller hangs up and is not heard from again. Minutes later, Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery. Officers appear to have gotten there minutes after that, based on the call log.

The reports highlight a recurring issue in the Glynn County neighborhood but don’t prove a rash of break-ins, which is the reason Greg McMichael gave officers for chasing Arbery, according to the incident report from the shooting. The reports also indicate that more than one person had been inside the home in the prior months.

Waycross DA George Barnhill said the shooting was justified under Georgia law, largely because the McMichaels were performing a lawful citizen’s arrest. However, state law requires direct knowledge of a felony; none of these reports indicate a felony aside from the gun stolen from Travis McMichael’s truck. There is no suspect description in that report.

Since the videos have been released, Ahmaud Arbery’s family attorneys have acknowledged he appears to be shown in surveillance videos inside the home. The family said this proves Arbery stopped by the home on a jog and continued on that jog once he left.

The homeowner’s attorney, J. Elizabeth Graddy, condemned the actions taken by the McMichaels in a statement to WTOC on Monday.

“The only crime that the homeowner has seen captured on video is the senseless killing of Mr. Arbery," Graddy said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation acknowledged they were reviewing the videos in question. However, the agency said it had the videos prior to charging Travis and Gregory McMichael with murder.

“I’m very comfortable in telling you there’s more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder,” said Director Vic Reynolds at a press conference last Friday.

Reynolds said they’re continuing to review evidence and did not rule out more arrests. His agency is also investigating how Brunswick DA Jackie Johnson and Waycross DA George Barnhill handled the case early on, including whether they broke state law in the process. The Department of Justice is mulling a federal probe into the matter.

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