A former Glynn County police officer who was first to respond to the scene after Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down in the Satilla Shores neighborhood not far from Arbery’s Brunswick, Georgia, home in February 2020 testified on Monday that he did not perform life-saving measures because he “didn’t have adequate medical training.”
Rickey Minshew also said Monday, which kicked off the first full week of testimony in the murder trial of the three men charged with Arbery’s murder, that one neighbor admitted at the scene that he had chased and tried to “corner,” “block,” and “cut off” Arbery at least five times before the shooting.
The neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, told Minshew at the scene, “Should I have been chasing him? I don’t know,” according to a transcript of body camera footage read in court.
Bryan and father-son duo Greg and Travis McMichael are charged with Arbery’s murder and accused of chasing the 25-year-old for five minutes before Travis McMichael shot him three times.
Minshew was in the neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020, responding to a non-emergency call about a Black male leaving a home under construction when he was flagged down by men standing in the street, where Arbery was lying in a pool of blood.
“Being that I was the only officer on scene, without having any other police units to watch my back, there was no way that I could switch to do anything medical and still be able to watch my surroundings,” Minshew, who had received CPR training, testified on Monday.
Minshew said he heard a “gurgle” as Arbery took his last breaths.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, questioned Minshew’s reasons for not providing 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 told reporters on Monday.
Defense attorneys say the men were attempting to execute a citizen’s arrest under the suspicion that Arbery was stealing from the home under construction, and that Travis McMichael fired the Remington shotgun in self-defense.
The elder McMichael said he was unsure if Arbery was carrying a weapon before pursuing him but checked after the shooting. According to a transcript from bodycam footage captured by Glynn County police officer Jeff Brandenberry, Greg McMichael told a bystander that Arbery “attacked” his son.
He added before getting interrupted by a bystander, “To be perfectly honest with you, if I could have got a shot at the guy, I’d have shot him myself because he was that violently —.”
Bryan and the McMichaels weren’t charged in Arbery’s death until two months later. The three men face other felony charges including aggravated assault and false imprisonment.
When defense attorneys and prosecutors gave opening statements on Friday, Cooper-Jones watched footage of Arbery’s death for the first time.
“I avoided the video for the last 18 months. And I thought it was time to get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud on his last minutes of his life. So I’m glad I was able to stay strong and stay in there,” she said.
Jury selection lasted almost three weeks and yielded a panel of 11 white jurors and one Black juror. Testimony is expected to last two weeks.
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