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Ahmaud Arbery’s mother sobs as video of the black jogger’s killing is played at his murder trial


Ahmaud Arbery’s mother was seen unable to hold back tears as she watched bodycam footage of her son’s murder for the first time at trial in Georgia on Friday.

Wanda Cooper-Jones said afterward in a brief press conference at the trial that she had ‘often avoided the video’ of Ahmaud’s death but decided Friday ‘was time to see’ it.   

She told reporters the footage from Glynn County Police Officer William Duggan, in which Travis McMichael can be heard saying ‘I f—ing killed someone’ was ‘heartbreaking.’ 

The footage, in part, shows Duggan approaching Arbery as he lies motionless, his face down in the street. He then turns Arbery over onto his back with his shirt and shorts saturated with blood. 

The pool reporter in the courtroom noted that at one point, one of the jurors had to shield their eyes with a notebook.      

Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, watched the video depicting the shooting that killed her son

Cooper-Jones told reporters afterward it was the first time she'd watched the video in full

Cooper-Jones told reporters afterward it was the first time she’d watched the video in full

She closed her eyes and covered her ears during the final moment when Arbery was shot

She closed her eyes and covered her ears during the final moment when Arbery was shot

Cooper-Jones, seen in a photo with her son Ahmaud Arbery

Cooper-Jones, seen in a photo with her son Ahmaud Arbery

Duggan, an officer of the force for 12 years, took the stand and talked the jury through his bodycam video, which depicts the moment the officer found Arbery on the ground after being shot by Travis McMichael, who chased the black jogger with the help of his father Greg McMichael and neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan. 

Duggan said when he approached Travis, the 35-year-old was covered in blood, saying, ‘I’m not okay.’ 

Meanwhile, Duggan, who has had nearly 190 hours of medical training, determined that Arbery was already dead given ‘the blood loss, lack of rise and fall of the chest and the gaping would I saw in his chest.’ 

‘There was nothing I could do,’ he told EMS officials as they arrived at the scene shortly after. 

His testimony came after prosecutors claim the three white men on trial for the murder of Arbery knew that he was not a burglar despite their claims that they confronted the black jogger because they suspected him of robbery. 

Officer William Duggan was the first to take the stand in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case

Officer William Duggan was the first to take the stand in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on February 23, 2020, while he was out for a run in his neighborhood

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on February 23, 2020, while he was out for a run in his neighborhood

Travis McMichael delivered the fatal gunshot wounds that killed Arbery

Travis McMichael delivered the fatal gunshot wounds that killed Arbery

Greg McMichael sits and listens to the charges placed against him during the trial

Greg McMichael sits and listens to the charges placed against him during the trial

William "Roddie" Bryan helped chase Arbery and filmed the fatal interaction

William “Roddie” Bryan helped chase Arbery and filmed the fatal interaction

Georgia Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski presented a bodycam video of Greg and his adult son, Travis , speaking with a police officer months before the fatal shooting, with the officer telling them that Arbery, 25, is only a suspected trespasser and loiterer in the area, not a burglar.

‘Mr. Arbery has never taken anything from this property. At this point, the McMichaels knew this,’ Dunikoski told the nearly all white jury at Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick. 

The McMichaels had armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck as he ran through their neighborhood just outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick on February 23, 2020. A neighbor, Bryan, joined the chase and recorded graphic video of Travis shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun. 

Travis’s attorney, Robert Rubin, claimed that the former US Coast Guard service member was only trying to defend his neighborhood amid a series of robberies in the area.   

The prosecutor was also allowed to show the jury, which has just one black juror on the  12-person panel, a picture of Travis’s license plate that features an old Georgia flag with the Confederate battle emblem, after the judge overruled objections by defense lawyers. 

Georgia Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, left, claimed Greg McMichael, top right, and son Travis McMichael, knew Ahmed Arbery was not a burglar months before they were caught on video shooting the black jogger in their neighborhood

Georgia Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, left, claimed Greg McMichael, top right, and son Travis McMichael, knew Ahmed Arbery was not a burglar months before they were caught on video shooting the black jogger in their neighborhood

Dunikoski presented photos highlighting Travis's shadow, demonstrating that he confronted Arbery in front of the car and not backing away from the jogger when he shot him

Dunikoski presented photos highlighting Travis’s shadow, demonstrating that he confronted Arbery in front of the car and not backing away from the jogger when he shot him

Police bodycam footage shows the Confederate flag vanity plates on Travis McMichael's pickup truck

Police bodycam footage shows the Confederate flag vanity plates on Travis McMichael’s pickup truck 

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley has slammed the trial for 'intentional discrimination' after just one black juror was picked to sit on the 12-person jury

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley has slammed the trial for ‘intentional discrimination’ after just one black juror was picked to sit on the 12-person jury

Georgia’s response to the killing has become part of a broader effort to address racial injustice in the criminal legal system after a string of fatal encounters between police and black people such as George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky

All three defendants are standing trial together, charged with murder and other felony counts.  

Dunikoski said the tragedy befell Arbery for a series of assumptions, ‘driveway decisions’ and malice about his race and suspicion regarding thefts in the area.

Larry English had long been complaining about thefts on his property when his home surveillance caught video of Arbery on the property in late 2019. 

Dunikoski said English and police suspected Arbery of the burglaries for only a brief moment before designating him as a ‘strange’ trespasser and loiterer who only seemed to walk by the area. Videos of Arbery were shared around the neighborhood in an attempt to identify him.

Despite being told this by police, according to the bodycam video, both McMichaels said they believed Arbery was the serial robber plaguing their neighborhood when they chased after him. 

Dunikoski said the men had time to think about what they were doing when they decided to chase the black men with their pick-up truck and guns, but carried on anyway. The McMichaels also called police to say they were chasing Arbery and had him ‘trapped like a rat.’

She presented a photograph of the incident, which shows Travis, 35, running towards Arbery in an effort to intercept him before discharging his shotgun. 

‘The state will show this was an attack on Ahmaud Arbery for five minutes, and all Mr. Arbery did was runaway,’ Dunikoski said.  

Dunikoski said said the tragedy befell Arbery for a series of assumptions and malice about his race and suspicion regarding thefts in the area

Dunikoski said said the tragedy befell Arbery for a series of assumptions and malice about his race and suspicion regarding thefts in the area

Arbery was video tapped trespassing in the area in late 2019

Arbery was video tapped trespassing in the area in late 2019

He was spotted multiple times in October, November, December and February

He was spotted multiple times in October, November, December and February

Rubin claims that the character of the neighborhood had changed in the months leading up to the shooting due to the string of robberies in 2019.   

‘Satilla Shores was a neighborhood on edge,’ Rubin said, alluding that neighbors were putting up cameras, posting worries on Facebook and children were no longer allowed to play outside. 

He said Travis felt he had a duty and responsibility to help catch not just the suspected thieves, but also the trespasser, Arbery. 

Rubin adds that Travis had come across a trespasser at English’s home on the night of February 11, presumably Arbery, who Travis claimed may have been armed in a 9-11 call that night.

He also claimed Arbery was a in fact a burglar, because he was trespassing on the property even if he did not steal anything from English, so Travis had probable cause to chase Arbery. 

Rubin said Travis ultimately shot Arbery in self-defense when Arbery ran at him and allegedly tried to grab the shotgun away from him.  

Robert Rubin said his client, Travis McMichael, was doing his duty when he chased Arbery

Robert Rubin said his client, Travis McMichael, was doing his duty when he chased Arbery

Rubin presented statements from the neighborhood over their fears of the robberies

Rubin presented statements from the neighborhood over their fears of the robberies

The jury was shown the video and images taken when the men chased and trapped Arbery

The jury was shown the video and images taken when the men chased and trapped Arbery

Franklin Hogue, Greg McMichael’s attorney, said his defense also believed Arbery was the man who had been burglarizing English’s property. 

Hogue said Greg, a former officer, used his training to recognize Arbery as the man from the video tapes and notified his son as the two decided to go after him. 

Greg was the one speaking with police at the time Travis confronted Arbery. Hogue said Greg believed Arbery was trying to grab Travis’s gun.

‘He was in abject fear that he was about to see his only son get shot before his very eyes,’ Hogue said.  

He added that Greg only wanted to arrest Arbery in order to get answers as to why he continued to break into English’s property.

Defense Attorney Kevin Gough, representing William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, said he wanted to forego his opening statement until the state presents its case in chief. 

Franklin Hogue said Greg McMichael was afraid Arbery would kill his son

Franklin Hogue said Greg McMichael was afraid Arbery would kill his son

Defense Attorney Kevin Gough, representing William 'Roddie' Bryan, said he wanted to forego his opening statement until the state presents its case in chief

Defense Attorney Kevin Gough, representing William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, said he wanted to forego his opening statement until the state presents its case in chief

Arbery had been dead for more than two months before the McMichaels and Bryan were charged and jailed last year. Greg McMichael, a retired investigator for the local district attorney, told police the men were trying to stop Arbery because they suspected he was a burglar. Security cameras had recorded him entering a nearby house under construction.

Greg McMichael said his son killed Arbery in self-defense after Arbery attacked with his fists and tried to take Travis McMichael’s gun.

Prosecutors say Arbery was merely out jogging, was unarmed and had committed no crimes in the neighborhood. When Bryan’s video of the killing leaked online in May 2020, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police. GBI agents arrested the McMichaels the next day, and charged Bryan two weeks later.

The killing of Arbery has dominated news stories and social media feeds in Brunswick and surrounding Glynn County, a coastal community of about 85,000 people.

Arbery was chased by the armed  McMichaels as he was jogging in February 2020

Arbery was chased by the armed  McMichaels as he was jogging in February 2020 

Arbery, in a white T-shirt, is confronted by Travis McMichael, who holds a shotgun

Arbery, in a white T-shirt, is confronted by Travis McMichael, who holds a shotgun

This combination of booking photos provided by the Glynn County, Ga., Detention Center, shows, from left, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. On Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, a Georgia judge has ruled that Ahmaud Arbery's mental health records can't be used as trial evidence by the men who chased and killed him.

This combination of booking photos provided by the Glynn County, Ga., Detention Center, shows, from left, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. On Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, a Georgia judge has ruled that Ahmaud Arbery’s mental health records can’t be used as trial evidence by the men who chased and killed him.

It took the judge and attorneys 2 1/2 weeks to select a jury. Nearly 200 people summoned to jury duty were questioned extensively about what they knew about the case, how many times they had seen the video and if they had any personal connection to Arbery or the defendants.

Controversy erupted on Wednesday, the final day of jury selection, when prosecutors objected to a final jury consisting of 11 whites and one black juror. They argued that defense attorneys had cut eight potential jurors from the final panel because they are Black, which the U.S. Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional.

The judge agreed there appeared to be ‘intentional discrimination,’ but said Georgia law limited his authority to intervene because defense attorneys stated non-racial reasons for excluding Black panelists from the jury.

One juror, a white woman, was dismissed Thursday for medical reasons. Fifteen total panelists will hear the trial – 12 jurors plus three alternates. The judge has not given the races of the alternate jurors, and they were not asked to state their race in open court.

Court officials have said the trial could last two weeks or more.

If the defendants are acquitted, their legal troubles won’t be over. They have also been indicted on federal hate crime charges. A U.S. District Court judge has scheduled that trial to begin February 7.





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