BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The first police officer on the scene of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing told jurors Monday that one of three white men charged with murder “cornered” Arbery before the Black 25-year-old was fatally shot.
Ricky Minshew, a former Glynn County Police Officer, said he spoke with William “Roddie” Bryan when he arrived on the scene, who told Minshew he “blocked,” “cornered” and “cut off” Arbery five times.
“Should I have been chasing him? I don’t know,” Bryan said, according to a transcript of Minshew’s body camera video read in court.
Monday marked the beginning of the first full week of testimony in the trial of Bryan and father and son Greg and Travis McMichael. In the morning, jurors heard from an investigator who documented the crime scene and took a series of graphic photos.
Attorneys for the state and Greg and Travis McMichael gave their opening statements Friday, and prosecutors called the first witness. An attorney for Bryan was expected to give his opening statement after the state finished calling witnesses.
The three defendants are accused of murder and other crimes in the death of Arbery, who was shot three times at close range with a shotgun. Video of the incident, captured by Bryan, was released by a Georgia attorney two months later, prompting national outrage.
Jurors have been selected in trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing: What we know about them
Minshew took the witness stand Monday morning. He said he was the first officer on the scene and saw two men pacing and Arbery’s body on the ground.
“He appeared to be deceased,” Minshew said, telling jurors he heard a noise he described as a “death rattle” coming from Arbery.
He said he called for emergency responders but did not attempt any lifesaving measures because he “did not have the adequate medical training” and his patrol car did not have medical supplies or equipment.
As Minshew testified, jurors looking intently at their notebooks, seeming to write furiously.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, later told reporters she didn’t understand why Minshew didn’t render aid to her son.
“I understand 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 pool of blood,” she said.
Investigator Sheila Ramos with the Glynn County Police Department took the witness stand Monday morning. Ramos took photos and collected evidence from the crime scene.
Prosecutors showed jurors the photos: The body covered by a bloodstained sheet lying in the street with a white truck in the background, a shotgun lying in the grass, bloodstains and shotgun shells on the driveway.
Prosecutors then showed jurors graphic close-ups of Arbery’s wounds. Several jurors squirmed in their seats as the first few photos were shown. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, exhaled quietly.
Jurors were also shown photos that Ramos took of a bullet that went through the window of a neighbor’s house and was lodged in the living room wall.
“Wow,” Cooper-Jones said as the photo was shown.
The state called its first witness Friday afternoon, William Duggan, one of the first Glynn County Police officers to respond to the scene.
Duggan told prosecutors that when he arrived, he saw Travis McMichael covered in blood. The officer asked McMichael if he was OK, prompting him to quickly reply, “No I’m not OK, I just ‘effing’ killed somebody,” according to Duggan.
Prosecutors played dash camera video and graphic footage from Duggan’s body camera for the jurors. Duggan can be seen turning over Arbery’s body and attempting to apply pressure to his wound before saying: “There’s nothing I can do for this gentleman.”
In her opening statement Friday, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski characterized the defendants’ actions on the day Arbery was killed as “driveway decisions” that were based on assumptions about what Arbery was doing in their neighborhood.
Greg McMichael saw Arbery running and “assumed the worst,” with “absolutely no immediate knowledge of any crime whatsoever.”
Bryan “has absolutely no idea what’s been going on” and “joins the McMichaels in chasing down” Arbery, using his truck to attempt to hit Arbery four times and preventing him from running away as the McMichaels closed in, she said.
Attorneys for Travis and Greg McMichael presented jurors with a picture of a neighborhood on edge and a father and son determined to detain a potential criminal.
Travis McMichael’s attorney, Bob Rubin, said his client pursued Arbery to “detain him for the police” because he and others felt a “duty and responsibility” to protect themselves and their community.
Greg McMichael’s attorney, Frank Hogue, said Satilla Shores had witnessed “break-ins and burglaries and thefts over many months,” and that Greg McMichael believed Arbery to have “burglarized” a neighbor’s house.
Rubin said Travis McMichael brandished his weapon only in an attempt to deescalate the situation. But Rubin said Arbery came toward Travis “such that Travis has no choice but to fire his weapon in self-defense.”
The predominantly white jury – only one person of color was seated – was finalized last week. The final panel consists of 12 jurors and three alternates: 11 white women, three white men and one Black man.
The demographic makeup of the panel has drawn scrutiny in a case several public figures have called a “lynching.” The judge acknowledged “intentional discrimination” in the jury selection process but said the defense’s decision to strike eight Black potential jurors was legal under Georgia law.
More than 26% of residents in Glynn County are Black, and more than 55% of residents in Brunswick are Black, according to Census Bureau data. Read more about the jury here. Here’s what we know about the jurors.