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Additional video footage in Ahmaud Arbery case draws different opinions

Additional video footage that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is reviewing as part of the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery is drawing different opinions from attorneys.

The GBI said in a statement that it is reviewing additional video footage and photographs as part of the active case.

“It is important to note that this footage was reviewed at the beginning of the GBI investigation and before the arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael,” the GBI said.

News4Jax on Saturday obtained a portion of video that’s said to be under investigation.

“Our office has reviewed the surveillance video which appears to show a person, believed to be Ahmaud Arbery, entering a property under construction. The individual remains on the property for under 3 minutes before continuing to jog down the road. This video is consistent with the evidence already known to us," reads, in part, a statement from the attorneys representing Arbery’s family.

Attorney Rod Sullivan, who is not associated with the case, said under Georgia laws, the police did have probable cause to make a trespassing arrest if it got to that point.

“And it really gives the two McMichaels, father and son, justification for following Mr. Arbery at least to the scene where the altercation occurred,” Sullivan said.

But civil rights attorney Reganel Reeves, who is not associated in the case, said there were other alternatives than following Arbery.

“Like they call the police. They could’ve followed him until police arrived. He was out there running on open road. There was no reason for them to engage him directly on the basis of him going into somebody else’s constructed home,” Reeves said.

Sullivan said the case boils down to who started the assault, which isn’t shown clearly in the original video that appeared to show the shooting.

“But in the video, there is no place where you see McMichael raise the shotgun. There’s no place where you see him point the shotgun at Mr. Arbery. And that’s going to be the key point," he said.

Sullivan also said you can’t judge a case on these videos, but only on the facts.

While Reeves said these types of cases are lucky to have a video at all.

“If the colors were reversed, would you get the same benefit of the doubt, so that’s really what it comes down to,” Reeves said.

Arbery was fatally shot on Feb. 23 in Brunswick but no charges were brought for more than two months. Shortly after the original video’s leak, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The arrests came hours after officials asked the GBI to start investigating. The inquiry was previously in the hands of local officials.

The father and son said they thought Arbery matched the appearance of a burglary suspect who they said had been recorded on a surveillance camera some time before.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her 25-year-old son, a former high school football player, was just jogging in the neighborhood before he was killed.