On the first day of trial for the three men who chased and killed unarmed Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, body camera footage from a responding Glynn County Police officer, William Duggan, showed the aftermath of the shooting. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones held her head in her hands and wept. She had avoided the video for months.
“The many times over the last couple...(of) months, I questioned what happened to Ahmaud in the last minutes of his life,” Cooper-Jones said, according to CNN. “I often avoided the video but today I decided it was time to see the video.”
In February 2020, Arbery was jogging past father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, when the two white men hopped in their truck and pursued Arbery, accusing him of being a thief. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. joined the pursuit in his own vehicle. Somehow, as the three men tried to conduct a “citizen’s arrest,” Arbery, who didn’t even have his cellphone, was shot dead by Travis McMichael.
When Officer Duggan arrived, Arbery was facedown on the pavement and the white three men were not far from his body, CNN reports. In the video, Duggan is seen turning Arbery over to reveal his bloody clothing and after an assessment said, “There’s nothing I can do for this gentleman.”
The video froze then, on the frame of Arbery lying motionless on the pavement, reports Reuters, and the hole in his chest could be seen. The court had been experiencing technical difficulties.
“Today was a very difficult day for the family,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s family, outside of the courthouse on Friday. “We saw some very graphic video today; we saw some very violent scenes.”
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski accused the men of having deadly intent from the very beginning.
Here’s more, from Reuters:
“At this point in time, Mr. Arbery is under attack by all three of these men,” she told the jury. Bryan got so close that they found Arbery’s handprint and fibers from his white T-shirt on the truck.
“All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions,” Dunikoski said. “They made decisions in their driveways based on those assumptions that took a young man’s life, and that is why we are here.”
Dunikoski said the defendants had deadly intent, pointing to something the elder McMichael told police he shouted at Arbery: “Stop or I’ll blow your fucking head off!” She said he also told police they had trapped Arbery “like a rat.”
She said Arbery was simply a fitness buff and told the jury they would soon be shown his sneakers, their tread worn smooth by his avid jogging.
Robert Rubin, Travis McMichael’s lawyer, said that it is a citizen’s job to help the police and that the law mandates that. “When seconds count, the police are often minutes away. The police are not going to catch this guy at the speed he’s running,” he said in his opening statement, according to Reuters.
The Root reported that the defense is using a Civil War-era law from 1863 that was repealed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in May. The law allows citizens to arrest someone if they suspected the person committed a felony and it was used as a defense by slave catchers and lynch mobs.
According to Reuters, the jury will hear testimony from Larry English, who owned the unoccupied house that Arbery stopped at on his jogs. English had security cameras on the unfinished property and already said in a deposition that nothing was stolen and Arbery probably stopped for a drink of water.