Ahmaud Arbery case: Bodycam footage released of officers on scene of shooting

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 4:12 PM EDT
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GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC/Gray News) - Police officers in Georgia 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 from Feb. 23, 2020, the day Arbery was killed, to piece together how officers responded.

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 heard the gunshots that killed 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 McMichael was arrested or charged that day. According to a recent grand jury indictment, Johnson, then the district attorney, directed Glynn County Police officers not to arrest Travis McMichael.

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

At the scene, officers later try to make sense of Greg McMichael’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 a-- 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.

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

Greg McMichael’s first phone call after the shooting was to 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. 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.

In response to a question clarifying the investigation involved a shooting that resulted in a death, the department said yes.

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