BRUNSWICK, Ga., Nov 8 (Reuters) – One of the three white men in pickup trucks who pursued Ahmaud Arbery through their mostly white southern Georgia neighborhood told police the Black jogger appeared tired from the chase before he was shot dead, a jury heard on Monday at the men’s trial.
Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment. They face life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge by the jury, which is composed of 11 white people and one Black person.
The men say they thought Arbery might have been fleeing from a crime when he ran through Satilla Shores on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020. They pursued him in pickup trucks for several minutes before the younger McMichael pointed a shotgun at Arbery on the road.
Here are some important moments from the second day of testimony in Glynn County Superior Court:
RICKY MINSHEW, PATROL OFFICER WITH GLYNN COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
Minshew was the first police officer to arrive at the shooting scene after responding to a 911 emergency call about a “suspicious Black male,” and told the court he heard gunshots as he drove into Satilla Shores and found the McMichaels and Bryan “pacing” near Arbery’s body.
“You had no choice,” Gregory McMichael appeared to tell his son, hands on his shoulders, as the police officer walked over, according to video from his body-worn camera played in court.
Bryan told Minshew that he did not recognize Arbery when he ran by Bryan’s driveway, nor the McMichaels as they drove by in pursuit in their pickup truck, Minshew told the jury.
“He said he hollered at the truck: ‘Y’all got him?'” before jumping in his own truck to join the chase, Minshew told the jury, referring to a transcript of the body camera video.
“Should I have been chasing him? I don’t know,” Bryan told Minshew minutes after the shooting, a few steps away from Arbery’s body in the road. Bryan noted he never put on his seatbelt, and could have been “thrown through the damn windshield trying to chase this joker,” according to the transcript.
Bryan noticed Arbery stop to catch his breath.
“When I rounded the corner out there, it was almost like the Black guy was tired of running,” Bryan told Minshew. Bryan told the police officer that Arbery tried to open his truck door at one point.
Larissa Ollivierre, one of the prosecutors from the Cobb County District Attorney’s office, sought to undermine the defense argument that the white men were trying to detain Arbery under a citizen’s arrest law, which requires a person to have reasonable suspicion that a felony has just been committed.
Bryan told the policeman he never heard a word from Arbery, but he heard one of the McMichaels call out to Arbery: “What’d you steal? What’d you do?”
“Did he ever say that he told Ahmaud he was under arrest for anything?” Ollivierre asked Minshew.
“No, ma’am,” Minshew said.
Later, Bryan’s lawyer, Kevin Gough, asked Minshew about Bryan’s reason for pulling out his cellphone to record the shooting.
“Well, I thought he was going to get away,” Bryan told Minshew at the scene, “so that was the reason.”
SHEILA RAMOS, INVESTIGATOR WITH GLYNN COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
Ramos took dozens of crime-scene photographs showing Arbery’s body in the road under a bloodstained sheet.
Her photographs also showed Travis McMichael’s pump-action 12-gauge shotgun lying on grass nearby, as well as shotgun shells and bloodstains on the asphalt.
The photographs included close-ups of a gaping gunshot wound in the center of Arbery’s chest, another just below his left armpit, and one on his wrist. Some jurors appeared to squirm. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, looked on from the gallery.
Ramos told the jury that Arbery’s pockets were empty.
The shotgun, contained in a long box, was also brought in and admitted into evidence. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)