BRUNSWICK, Ga. – On the second day of testimony in a murder trial of three white men accused of killing an unarmed Black man, jurors were shown a picture of the shotgun used to kill Ahmaud Arbery along with disturbing, close-up evidence photos of the 25-year-old bleeding in the road.
Three white men are on trial for murder and other crimes in the slaying of Arbery, who was chased and shot Feb. 23, 2020, after he was spotted running in a neighborhood just outside Brunswick.
Former Glynn County Officer Ricky Minshew told the court he was called to the Satilla Shores neighborhood on a report of a suspicious person. He testified that he was looking for that person when he heard gunshots. He arrived at the shooting scene within about a minute.
“When I got out, as I’m exiting, I hit my body camera at the center of my chest. I got out to see what was going on and I see two males in front of me. I observed a Black male laying in the roadway. He was covered in blood,” Minshew said. “One was pacing, kind of walking. The other doing the same thing, pacing and walking.”
Minshew also testified that e heard what he described as “a death rattle” coming from Arbery -- a sound he’d heard before when responding to suicides and vehicle fatalities in the moments after they die.
Minshew said he didn’t administer CPR because “there was no way I could switch to do anything medical and still watch after my own safety.”
Earlier Monday, Glynn County police Sgt. Sheila Ramos walked the jury through dozens of crime scene photos she took about an hour after the shooting. Several jurors were seen squirming as Ramos showed Arbery’s body lying in the street under a bloodstained covering. Other images showed closeup views of the gunshot wounds to his wrist as well as grievous injuries to his chest, side and wrist.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and used a pickup truck to pursue Arbery after they spotted him running in their neighborhood. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery in the street at close range.
No arrests were made for more than two months until the video of the killing leaked online, sparking an outcry amid a national reckoning over racial injustice. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police. Both McMichaels and Bryan were soon charged with murder and other crimes.
Defense attorneys said the men were justified to chase and attempt to detain Arbery because he had been recorded by security cameras inside a nearby home under construction and they suspected he was a burglar. They say Travis McMichael fired in self-defense when Arbery attacked him with fists and tried to grab his gun.
Arbery’s mother told reporters outside the courthouse she was confused why more was not done to help her badly wounded son.
“He had a guy lying in the road who was covered in blood,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said. “I can’t understand why he didn’t render aid.”
Cooper-Jones stayed in the courtroom as the graphic photos were shown and could be heard exhaling quietly as Ramos identified closeup images of a gaping shotgun wound in her son’s chest. Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., got up and walked out before the jury was shown the images.
Arbery’s father said he cannot look at video of his son being shot over and over again in court.
“I am going to ask you a serious question: If you saw your kid get blowed apart with a 12-guage shotgun like that, what would you do? Would you go look at something like that (of) your kid? Then you should know how I feel.”
The second officer to respond to the shooting, William Duggan, testified Friday and jurors watched portions of his body camera video in which Duggan rolled Arbery over and pressed a hand to his wounded chest.
“I had pressure on, but there was nothing I could do,” Duggan told other first responders on the video, saying Arbery died after about two minutes.
Ramos said Arbery had nothing in his pockets — no keys, cellphone, wallet or ID. Police identified his body using his fingerprints, she said.
She also photographed a home near the shooting scene where one of the shotgun blasts sent a projectile through a front window and into an inside wall. No one was injured.
The jury seated Friday for the trial is disproportionately white. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley allowed the jury to be sworn over the objections of prosecutors, who said several Black potential jurors were excluded because of their race, leaving only one Black juror on the panel of 12.