Ahmaud Arbery case: Police officer was seconds away when fatal shooting happened

‘He had bled out’ by the time the officer arrived

Warning: This article contains details readers may find disturbing.

The first Glynn County police officer who responded to Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting was seconds away when Travis McMichael opened fire with his 12-gauge shotgun, killing the 25-year-old in the middle of the road.

Officer Ricky Minshew was already in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside of Brunswick after responding to a neighbor’s non-emergency call about a “suspicious Black male” leaving a nearby home under construction, he testified Monday.

As Minshew drove around a curve the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2020, he was flagged down by two men. Then he drove closer and saw Arbery’s body lying in a pool of blood.

ExploreBreakdown episode 15: Examining the nearly all-white jury hearing the case

The Remington shotgun used to kill Arbery was off to the side in a yard nearby, also covered in blood, Minshew testified, while Travis McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, were pacing in the roadway.

Jurors were shown graphic photographs of Arbery’s lifeless body Monday morning as the second day of testimony got underway in the high-profile trial. Some of them squirmed as Glynn County police Sgt. Sheila Ramos walked them through the photographs she took from the scene.

They were also shown the cellphone video filmed by the McMichaels’ neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, who joined in the pursuit, though he later told police he wasn’t sure why the father and son were chasing Arbery. Three shots rang out and Arbery stumbled away before collapsing in the road, his white shirt and khaki shorts soaked in blood.

ExploreArbery's family struggles to cope during trial

Minshew, who has been criticized for not rendering aid, had CPR training but said he did not feel safe to attend to the dying Arbery at the scene.

“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 said from the witness stand.

Combined ShapeCaption
Travis McMichael (left), his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan face murder and other charges in Arbery's shooting.

Credit: Body camera photos

Travis McMichael (left), his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan face murder and other charges in Arbery's shooting.

Credit: Body camera photos

Combined ShapeCaption
Travis McMichael (left), his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan face murder and other charges in Arbery's shooting.

Credit: Body camera photos

Credit: Body camera photos

He also said he “didn’t have the adequate medical training” to handle such a severe injury.

ExploreProsecutors: No evidence Arbery stole anything before he was killed

Questioned by attorneys for more than four hours, Minshew — who’s no longer a Glynn County officer — said he heard what he described as a “death rattle” emitting from the wounded Arbery, who was unresponsive and “appeared to be deceased.”

Minshew had heard the sound before, he testified, once while responding to a suicide and other times after responding to motor vehicle fatalities.

“He had bled out to the point that the blood was exceeding the perimeter of his body,” Minshew said, identifying the “gurgle” he heard as Arbery taking his final breaths.

Onlookers in the overflow room, including two of Arbery’s aunts, held their faces in disbelief as the widely shared footage of Arbery’s killing was shown in the adjacent courtroom. Another woman began crying.

Minshew said he questioned Bryan at the scene, and that Bryan acknowledged he wasn’t familiar with Arbery or the McMichaels when he left his front porch and joined in the chase.

Bryan and the McMichaels have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges, contending they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest and detain Arbery for police following a string of neighborhood break-ins.

When Minshew arrived at the scene, Travis McMichael had blood on his hands, arms and on the back of his head.

“He had no choice, man,” Greg McMichael could be heard telling the officer in the footage before placing his hands on his son’s shoulders.

Minshew climbed into Bryan’s Chevrolet Silverado truck after Greg McMichael told him the deadly shooting had been recorded. He testified that he didn’t view Bryan as a threat, but got in the truck to watch the video of Arbery’s killing and email a copy of it.

Bryan told the officer he joined the chase and attempted to “corner” Arbery with his pickup approximately five times, Minshew said. Bryan also acknowledged that he wasn’t sure Arbery had done anything wrong, and that Arbery appeared exhausted after fleeing for several minutes.

“He (Bryan) said that he (Arbery) had to stop and catch his breath,” Minshew testified.

Bryan also said he wasn’t certain he should have even joined the McMichaels in their pursuit.

“Should I have been chasing him? I don’t know,” Bryan told Minshew.

Combined ShapeCaption
A mural of Ahmaud Arbery by the artist Marvin Weeks on a building that will soon be the site of the Brunswick African American Cultural Center near the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., Nov. 5, 2021. Opening arguments in the trial over the killing of Arbery by three white men began on Friday morning in Brunswick, a community made uneasy this week by the selection of a nearly all-white jury to hear the case. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)

A mural of Ahmaud Arbery by the artist Marvin Weeks on a building that will soon be the site of the Brunswick African American Cultural Center near the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., Nov. 5, 2021. Opening arguments in the trial over the killing of Arbery by three white men began on Friday morning in Brunswick, a community made uneasy this week by the selection of a nearly all-white jury to hear the case. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)

Combined ShapeCaption
A mural of Ahmaud Arbery by the artist Marvin Weeks on a building that will soon be the site of the Brunswick African American Cultural Center near the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., Nov. 5, 2021. Opening arguments in the trial over the killing of Arbery by three white men began on Friday morning in Brunswick, a community made uneasy this week by the selection of a nearly all-white jury to hear the case. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)

All three men were allowed to leave the scene after Arbery’s death, and no arrests were made for more than two months.

Outside the courthouse, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, called the testimony “very disturbing.”

“I didn’t really understand why he didn’t render aid,” she said. “I understood 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 puddle of blood.”

During Friday’s courtroom proceedings, Officer William Duggan — who arrived at the shooting scene shortly after Minshew — testified that he put on plastic gloves and knelt down over Arbery. He placed a hand on a gaping wound in Arbery’s chest to stanch the blood but withdrew it when he realized Arbery was dead.