Hours before the twelve juries found three men for murdering Ahmaud Arbery, they made a request to the judge. They asked to watch the video of Mr. Arbury’s murder three more times.
A graphic cell phone video of the murder taken while William Brian was chasing Mr. Arbury on a truck drew the world’s attention to the incident in the months following the incident.
It sparked national protests and urged the Legislature to make significant changes to Georgia’s criminal law, including the passage of the state’s first hate crime law. It prompted a former county district attorney to prosecute on charges, including instructing police officers not to arrest Travis McMichael, who shot Mr. Arbury.
And finally, the video, along with Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael, seemed to play a decisive role in the jury’s decision to convict Brian for the murder.
“The defendant’s own video shows that Mr. Arbury was unarmed and jogging,” said Sarah Garwig Moore, a professor at Mercer University Law School in Macon, Georgia. .. “
The ubiquity of mobile phone videos from bystanders and body camera videos from police officers has brought video evidence to the center of many recent trials and persuaded jury members, including witness testimonies and lawyer claims. Often replaces other ways of doing.
Mary Fan, a law professor and former prosecutor at the University of Washington, said: “When the jury sees the visual evidence, my words are just words, so how dramatically I make my start or end, or how my witnesses explain them. It doesn’t matter if you tell it to. It can’t be compared to a video drama. “
In the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, which was acquitted a few days before the verdict of the Arbury murder, the defense’s debate focused on the bystander video of the moment before the first shooting. The footage appeared to show that Rittenhaus was chased into the parking lot by Joseph Rosenbaum, who was first shot dead.
It was a mobile phone video of George Floyd’s death under the knees of a Minneapolis police officer — Captured by a 17-year-old bystander at the time and uploaded to Facebook — ignited international protests against racism and police violence. This video was important in a trial in which former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of two murders.
Some legal experts have said that videos that may be unreliable, especially when compared to testimony, provide objectivity.
Understand the killing of Amado Aberbury
photograph. On February 23, 2020, a 25-year-old black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot dead after being chased by three white men while jogging near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery’s murder was captured in a graphic video that was widely seen by the general public.
Melissa Redmon, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, said: “If there is a visual aid to do that, it makes it much easier.”
However, as video evidence plays an increasingly important role in jury deliberations, some experts warn that some of the same vulnerabilities as other forms of evidence may be vulnerable. increase.
“When we watch the video, it has this kind of fascinating way to make us think,’Hey, I saw what happened,'” said Fan. However, like other types of evidence, it may not be possible to get the full picture. Depending on a person’s previous career, the same footage “follows different details, notices different things, amplifies different things” in our eyes, and the jury tells the story “in a very different way.” She added that she would guide her to fill the gap.
Jack Rice, a criminal defense lawyer based in St. Paul, Minnesota, said the outcome of the proceedings often led lawyers on either side to watch the video in a way that favored their claims. He said he would come back to what he could do.
“The undeniable nature of the video means that if you can turn it to support your story, it can make your story undeniable,” he said. rice field. “From an advocacy point of view, that’s great. You can’t ask for more.”
Nicholas Bogel-Barrows Contribution report.