A shotgun lay on the lawn, a nearby window had a fresh bullet hole, and two spent shotgun shells were discovered on a driveway near where a mortally wounded Black man lay face down on an asphalt road. Two visibly distressed white men stood near the body.
That was the scene described by the first police officers dispatched to the waterfront south Georgia community of Satilla Shores on a clear, 68-degree Sunday afternoon in February 2020, according to a crime scene investigator.
“This is Ahmaud’s body,” Sgt. Sheila Ramos, a Glynn County Police Department crime scene investigator, testified on Monday as she went through a series of photographs she took on the day prosecutors allege Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was chased down and fatally shot.
According to prosecutors, Arbery was unarmed and out for a Sunday jog when he was shot and killed.
Ramos stated that no identification was found on the body discovered by officers on Feb. 23, 2020, in an unincorporated neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery’s fingerprints helped her identify him. When Ramos arrived at the scene, she noticed a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, which she later learned was used to kill Arbery, lying on the grass in front of a home with a blood-splattered driveway covered in shell casings.
She testified that while she was marking potential evidence locations, she was notified that a bullet hole had been discovered in a nearby home’s window and went to photograph it.
Ricky Minshew, a former Glynn County police officer, testified that he was the first officer to arrive on the scene.
When Minshew heard gunshots, he was responding to a non-emergency call from a neighbor who reported seeing a “suspicious Black male” exiting a home under construction. As he drove into the Satilla Shores neighborhood, he said he came around a corner and saw Gregory McMichael, 65, and his son, Travis McMichael, 35, standing near the body of a Black man lying in the road.
Minshew, who had received cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, admitted that he did not immediately check the mortally wounded man to see if he still had a pulse and if he could be helped.
The jury saw Minshew’s body camera footage, which showed Gregory and Travis McMichael standing near Arbery’s body, with the elder McMichael apparently attempting to comfort his son. On Tuesday, Glynn County police officer Jeff Brandeberry testified that when he arrived at the scene, he was tasked with interviewing retired Glynn County officer Gregory McMichael.
Gregory McMichael, he said, then proceeded to tell him that a Black man had previously been captured on security video entering a home under construction in the neighborhood. Gregory McMichael, he said, claimed he recognized the man from the video when he saw him “hauling ass” down the street past his house.
He claimed McMichael told him that he suspected the man was armed because his son had encountered the same man in the neighborhood about two weeks earlier, and the man had reached into his waistband as if reaching for a gun.
Under questioning from prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, Brandeberry testified that Gregory McMichael told him that the man his son shot was a “guy who we’ve seen on video breaking into these other houses numerous times.” Gregory McMichael, according to Brandeberry, was apparently referring to a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood.
But, according to Brandeberry, McMichael told him at the time that he didn’t know where Arbery was running from when he ran home to get his gun and his son to chase after the Black man in his son’s pickup truck.
When Dunikoski asked if Gregory McMichael used the words “burglary,” “trespassing,” or said he and his son were attempting a citizens’ arrest at any point during the interview, Brandeberry replied, “No.”
Travis McMichael is accused of shooting Arbery three times, including once in the chest, according to prosecutors. Travis McMichael’s arms, back, and face were covered in blood in photos taken at the crime scene. The McMichaels and Bryan, 52, have all pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.