‘He’s Still Breathing’: New Bodycam Footage Shows Minutes After Ahmaud Arbery Was Shot

December 18, 2020 Off By Emma Ockerman

When cops first showed up on the suburban Georgia road where Travis McMichael chased down and shot Ahmaud Arbery last February—a pursuit that also included McMichael’s father and a neighbor—Travis was pacing and covered in blood, according to newly released police body-camera footage. 

“You had no choice,” Gregory McMichael told his son, putting his hands on Travis’ shoulders, according to the footage published by the Washington Post Thursday. “You had no choice.”

The two men stood a few feet away from Arbery, a Black 25-year-old, who was lying face-down in the street in a pool of his own blood. Arbery appeared to still be alive around that time, according to the Washington Post and the Associated Press; his head and leg moved, and a Glynn County police officer’s body camera captured audio of heavy breathing that may have been Arbery. His body is blurred in the bodycam footage published by the Post.

The first officer on the scene, who arrived just minutes after the shooting, did not immediately render aid, according to the Washington Post. 

When a second officer showed up shortly after the first, his body camera footage—also published by the Washington Post—captured someone saying of Arbery, “He’s still breathing, man.” 

“Yep, I know, I’m going to try and do something for him,” the second officer said as he put on gloves. 

He flipped Arbery onto his back.

“Damn,” the second officer said, according to his body camera footage. Arbery was soaked in blood. The officer put his hand on Arbery’s chest for about two minutes. 

“There’s nothing I can do for this gentleman,” the first officer said. 

The body camera footage, which was filed in the Superior Court of Glynn County, adds another gruesome perspective to Arbery’s Feb. 23 killing, showing the immediate reactions of the McMichaels and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., after Travis McMichael shot Arbery in the road. All three men were arrested on murder charges in May, more than two months after the killing, and all three have since pleaded not guilty. 

Arbery’s family has said he was out for a jog that day in a neighborhood near his home in Brunswick, Georgia. His father has described his son’s killing as a “lynching.” Arbery was unarmed.

Gregory McMichael, however, told officers that he had seen Arbery “hauling ass” down his road in Satilla Shores and thought he was a suspect from a series of local break-ins, according to a police report. Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael grabbed their guns and jumped in their truck to chase him.

Their neighbor, Bryan, followed behind and captured the pursuit on cellphone video, including  the moment that Travis McMichael and Arbery fought in the road. During that struggle, three gunshots rang out, and Arbery fell to the ground. 

When police interviewed Bryan that day, he said that he had tried to block Arbery with his car, but Arbery kept running. 

“He was going all around,” Bryan said, according to body camera footage. “I made a few moves at him, you know. And he didn’t stop.”

Ben Crump, an attorney for Arbery’s family, said in a statement that the body camera footage released this week “confirms what we had long suspected.”

“The footage clearly documents that Bryan used his truck to block Ahmaud from escaping the McMichaels,” Crump said. “With the murderous teamwork of Bryan and the McMichaels exposed for the world to see, we are confident that this will bring us one step closer to justice for the Arbery family.”

Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, has previously described him as a witness to a crime. Gough did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

In June, the lead investigator in Arbery’s case said during a probable cause hearing that Bryan had overheard Travis calling Arbery a “fucking n-----” as he lay dying. 

Attorneys for Gregory and Travis McMichael, who have denied that the killing was racially motivated, did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment about the new body camera footage.