The newly released body cam footage also seemed to contradict the account of William “Roddie” Bryan, who said he was just a witness who captured the fatal encounter on camera.
Did police hesitate to help Ahmaud Arbery after the 25-year-old Black man was fatally shot while jogging? Newly released police body cam initially obtained exclusively by WJAX-TV appears to show that Arbery was still alive when police arrived to the scene, but authorities did not immediately jump to save his life.
Instead, the responding officers showed little skepticism to the suspects during the initial questioning. One officer even chuckled while assuring the suspects wouldn’t be restrained when taken to police headquarters.
“No, no no no no no,” one officer responded when suspect Gregory McMichael asked if his son Travis would be handcuffed, according to video provided by the Superior Court of Glynn County. “Why would he be in cuffs?”
Arbery, however, didn’t seem to receive the same treatment. According to the body cam video, Arbery, who was covered in blood and lying in the middle of the road. was still gasping for breath and moving his leg when the first officer arrived on the scene. Instead of rushing to his aid, the officer assessed the scene, called for backup and asked the men accused of his shooting if they were armed, body cam video showed.
The second police officer who arrived on the scene minutes later tended to Arbery. A white sheet was laid on his body more than half an hour after the shooting, the Washington Post reported.
Neither the Glynn County Police Department nor their police union responded to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment. According to the Washington Post, the police department declined to comment, citing ongoing investigation.
The body cam video also seemed to contradict one suspect’s version of events. A third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, who recorded video of the deadly confrontation on his cell phone, has maintained his innocence, claiming that he was merely a witness to the event.
However, Bryan could be heard in the body cam video clearly telling officers, “He was obviously up to something … Should we have been chasing him? I don’t know … One time, when I cornered him up over here, he was trying to get in my truck. He was trying to get in my door.”
He also told officers he was “not necessarily” a passerby, and that he “made a few moves at him” during the chase, CBS News reported.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Arbery’s family, said the evidence is damning. “The footage clearly documents that Bryan used his truck to block Ahmaud from escaping the McMichaels,” Crump told the Washington Post. “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 lawyer Kevin Gough maintains that Bryan is just a witness to the shooting, and said in the spring that a polygraph test proved that Bryan “did not have any conversation with either Gregory or Travis McMichael prior to the shooting.” Gough did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment about what was recorded on the body cam footage.
An attorney for Gregory McMichael, who had recently retired as a local police detective at the time of his shooting, said the release of footage helps his clients as it allows “us all to witness [them] in the immediate aftermath of a horrific event,” the Washington Post reported.
McMichaels' attorney Frank Hogue added, in an email to the Washington Post, “This is not a case of white racist vigilantes who, upon seeing a Black man innocently jogging down the street in their mostly white neighborhood, decide to arm themselves, jump in a pickup truck, chase, trap, and then execute him because he’s Black." He did not respond Inside Edition Digital's request for comment.
All three have pleaded not guilty with trial dates still pending due to court backlogs amid the coronavirus pandemic.