New bodycam video released in Arbery case

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Police officers who responded to the scene where Ahmaud Arbery was killed described their first impressions on the day of the shooting.

One officer said he was so close to the scene he heard the gunshots.

WTOC went back through the files we have from the day Ahmaud Arbery was killed to piece together how officers responded.

Remember, former District Attorney Jackie Johnson is accused of directing police officers not to arrest the suspected shooter on the day of the shooting.

The first officer on the scene actually heard the gunshots that killed Ahmaud Arbery.

He describes what happened to another officer on scene.

“I was coming right through there and I heard the shots. I didn’t, it took me a minute to grasp what was going on. I heard the shots when I was coming through but I didn’t realize what had happened until I got right there,” officer 1 said.

Officer 1 continued, “I was looking around trying to figure out where it was coming from and I saw two guys with guns over here. Then when I got right here they were still standing with guns in their hands and he had already fell down, dude.”

You can hear a dispatcher ask if he was involved.

Dispatcher, “(Inaudible) I need to know if you were involved.”

“Negative,” said officer 1.

Three minutes later, a second officer arrives on scene, and is the first one to check on Arbery. He turns him over and appears to apply pressure to his wounds.

Six minute later, EMS arrives. The second officer says Arbery took his last breath a few minutes ago and that he applied pressure and that’s all he could do.

Neither the shooter, Travis McMichael, nor his father Greg was arrested or charged that day. According to a recent grand jury indictment, that’s because then District Attorney Jackie Johnson directed Glynn County Police officers - not to arrest Travis McMichael.

She’s now charged with obstruction and hindering a law enforcement officer, a felony.

In light of new information from the indictment, WTOC Investigates took another look at the police body camera video from the scene – in particular – what officers knew and discussed about the shooting.

Officers later try to make sense of Greg’s story that day.

“Yeah, his story was kind of confusing as far as where they went and what happened,” said officer 4.

“Yeah, that’s confusing too about going this way that way. Yeah, that’s a little bit weird. I hadn’t put that together yet,” said officer 1.

Another officer on scene sorts out how to share the load of the investigation, which she described as a murder:

“I was going to say Baker can do it because this is a murder, but however you want me to – it’s up to you,” said officer 2.

Officers on scene also watched cell phone video of the shooting taken by William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. Police collected it as evidence.

“I’m emailing this video. He was videoing as they were coming down the road,” said officer 1.

Afterwards, officers gathered at the scene to talk through what they saw in the video.

“I mean, they were wearing that guy’s ass out,” said officer 2.

Officer 2 continued, “You watched the video didn’t you? Would you agree old boy was kind of wearing him out a little bit and then I slowed it down and watched it. You see the first shot and then you see the second shot.

They change topics before the officer turns off his body camera.

Jackie Johnson’s direct influence that day is not yet apparent in any of the police body camera video we’ve seen that’s been made publicly available so far.

But here’s what we do know:

Greg McMichael’s first phone call after the shooting was to DA Jackie Johnson. Police arrived at 1:14 p.m.

According to court documents, he left her an urgent voicemail an hour later - at 2:14 p.m. - to say he’d been involved in a shooting and needed her advice.

The next day – the Glynn County Police Department emailed details about the shooting to several area media outlets, including WTOC.

Here’s a look at the three sentences released to the public. It said the department is investigating a shots fired call that led to a death. And that police are closely working with the District Attorney’s Office to determine potential charges. It ends by saying further details are not yet being released.

WTOC responded to clarify if the investigation involved a shooting that resulted in a death. The department responded and said – yes.

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