Defense Attorney In Ahmaud Arbery Case Says 'We Don't Want Any More Black Pastors Coming In Here'
Defense Attorney Kevin Gough said the presence of Black pastors, including Rev. Al Sharpton, could be "intimidating."
November 12, 2021 at 5:39 pm
Defense attorney Kevin Gough for William "Roddie" Bryan, one of the accused men in the Ahmaud Arbery case, raised a complaint to the court requesting that Black pastors be barred from the court proceeding, citing the optics were "unfair."
Gough was irked when last week, Rev. Al Sharpton sat with Arbery's family.
“I’ve got nothing personally against Mr. Sharpton … but if we’re starting a precedent where we’re gonna bring high-profile members of the African American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that’s intimidating and it’s an attempt to consciously or unconsciously pressure or influence the jury,” Gough argued to Judge Timothy Walmsley, TMZ reports.
"There's only so many pastors they can have. If their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that's fine. But then that's it. We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here," Gough said, according to Reuters.
Gough made the point that it would be similar to people coming "dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks sitting in the back," according to The Washington Post.
Sharpton responded in a statement: "The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need of spiritual and community support," he said.
Arbery, 25, was out jogging when he was killed on Feb. 23, 2020. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael are accused of following Arbery and fatally shooting him. The McMichaels' neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, recorded the encounter on his cellphone while driving his truck.
After sitting in on the trial in Brunswick, Georgia, on Thursday, Sharpton took issue with Gough's assertion that his presence in the courtroom would be viewed as “intimidation.”
“My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly," Sharpton said in his statement."The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership. How else would the defense attorney know who was a black pastor or not?”
“This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother [and] father sitting in a courtroom with three men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds. I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim,” Sharpton added.
The judge denied Gough's request, stating that Sharpton's attendance would not adversely interrupt the trial and his presence was "at the invitation of the family."
The Michaels and Bryan each face one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.