As the trial of three white men charged with murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery entered its second day Monday, the jury learned about Arbery’s final moments — and that the first police officer to arrive at the scene did not render lifesaving aid.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot to death in February 2020 while out for a jog in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of coastal Georgia. A jury is now considering murder charges against Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan.
On Monday, prosecutors asked former Glynn County patrol Officer Ricky Minshew, the first officer to respond to the shooting, about Satilla Shores, which he usually patrolled. The day Arbery was killed, Minshew told prosecutors, he’d received a call about a “suspicious Black male in the neighborhood wearing a white T-shirt.”
Minshew testified that he believed Arbery was dead by the time he arrived. A shotgun lay in the grass, covered in blood, Minshew said, when he got there. Jurors were shown photos of the scene that matched Minshew’s description.
The officer said he did not render aid to Arbery because he was the only officer present and there was no one “to watch his back.” He said he did not have medical materials on hand, but that he did call for emergency services.
Outside court a short time later, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, spoke with reporters and questioned why Minshew did not render aid to her son.
“I understood he had to go and secure the crime scene, but at the same time, he had a guy laying in the middle of the road in a puddle of blood,” Cooper-Jones told reporters.
The jury also heard from Sheila Ramos, an investigator and crime scene technician with the Glynn County Police Department. She testified that Arbery was unarmed when his killers confronted him. The defendants have claimed they believed at the time that Arbery was in the area to commit break-ins. Ramos, however, testified that Arbery did not have a phone, a weapon or tools with him when he was chased down and killed.
Ramos, who was called to the scene on the day of the shooting, said a 12-gauge shotgun was recovered there. The gun was presented in the courtroom, with dried blood on it.
Ramos described graphic pictures of Arbery in the courtroom. Jurors were shown long-range and medium-range images from that day, with blood visible on the pavement and Arbery’s body covered in a white sheet soaked with blood.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery was out for a jog in the middle of the day. At one point he stopped at a local construction site, where multiple people had previously been filmed entering and leaving the premises as far back as 2019.
Gregory McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer, called 911, saying there was a “Black man running down the streets.” McMichael and his son Travis pursued Arbery in a truck. Video footage also shows Bryan, a neighbor, jumping into a pickup truck in his driveway and following Arbery down the street with the McMichaels. Greg McMichael later told police he believed Arbery resembled a suspect who’d been seen in videos and who was involved in multiple robberies in the neighborhood.
The McMichaels caught up to Arbery and confronted him, with Travis wielding a shotgun. In a subsequent police report, Greg says Arbery attacked Travis and there was a struggle for the gun. Arbery was shot three times at close range.
Bryan filmed the incident, but the video was not made public until two months later, when it sparked national outrage and fueled massive protests in the name of Black Lives Matter across the country for months.
The prosecution gave its opening statement on Friday, where lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski argued that Arbery was killed based on false assumptions and “driveway decisions.” The prosecution noted that Arbery was chased for five minutes in broad daylight.
“They did everything based they did based on assumptions,” Dunikoski told the jury Friday. “And they made decisions in their driveway that took a young man’s life.”
In their own opening statements, defense attorneys for Greg and Travis McMichael argued that Arbery was killed in self-defense. Frank Hogue, a defense attorney for Greg McMichael, said there’d been fears of property crimes in the residential community for some time.
Ramos told Jason Sheffield, a defense attorney for Travis McMichael, that she did not interact with Travis at the scene, but she did see him later in the day. When she asked Travis if he was all right, she said, he told her “no.”
Body camera footage from Minshew shed light on Bryan’s behavior immediately following the shooting. Minshew said he talked with Bryan at the scene. He asked Bryan if he was a “passerby coming through.” Bryan told him “not exactly,” and later told Minshew he was involved in what had happened.
Bryan told Minshew that Arbery never spoke to him or to the McMichaels as they followed him. Even as the three men asked who he was, where he was from and if he’d taken anything, Arbery never said a word.
“I mean, this would have never happened, you know,” Bryan said, according to Minshew. “Should I have been chasing him? I don’t know.”
When Travis McMichael shot at Arbery, a bullet went through a neighbors window and into a wall, Minshew said.
And still, Bryan had defended the actions that took place that day, even with admitting to not being fully aware if Arbery had been involved in any robberies or not.
“If the guy would have stopped, you know, what I mean, to find out what was going on, he obviously was up to something,” Minshew read from the transcript that noted Bryan’s words to him.
Following Minshew’s testimony, attorneys in court debated over what statements would be admissible in court.
Glynn County Police Officer Adam Jackson was next to take the stand but did not stay as long. He went to where Arbery was shot after the first officer said on the police radio that shots had been fired.
Jackson, who is currently employed as a patrol officer, has been with the force for 2½ years.
While on the stand, Jackson told prosecutors he did not review his body camera footage, but he confirmed in court that it was his. Jackson was also given surveillance footage from a neighbor, Diego Perez, from the incident. Jackson was assigned to interviewing neighbors in the area.
Eleven members of the jury are white, while one is Black. Prosecutors had requested that Judge Timothy Wamsley reinstate eight potential Black jurors in the case.
Prosecutors also Friday called as a witness William Duggan, an officer for 12 years at the Glynn County Police Department who was the second officer to arrive at the scene. Duggan’s body camera footage shows Arbery lying in the street with Bryan and the McMichaels all still at the scene.
Dunikoski said Arbery was unarmed and did not have a phone with him, meaning he couldn’t “call for help if he wanted to” during the confrontation.
Bryan and the McMichaels all face murder charges, as well as federal hate crime charges. All three were arrested some 70 days after Arbery’s death, after video of the incident went viral on social media.