Officer: Ahmaud Arbery would have received trespass warning

Defense attorney Robert Rubin speaks during the trial of William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, charged with the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, at the Gwynn County Superior Court, in Brunswick, Ga., Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Octavio Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Defense attorney Robert Rubin speaks during the trial of William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, charged with the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, at the Gwynn County Superior Court, in Brunswick, Ga., Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Octavio Jones/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Octavio Jones

Credit: Octavio Jones

A police officer says he would have given Ahmaud Arbery a warning for trespassing inside the unfinished home from which the young Black man was seen running before he was chased and fatally shot

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A police officer testified Friday he planned to give Ahmaud Arbery a trespass warning for repeatedly entering a home under construction before the 25-year-old Black man was chased and shot dead by neighbors who spotted him running from the property.

Glynn County police Officer Robert Rash said he spoke several times to the house's owner, who sent him videos showing Arbery visiting the site several times between Oct. 25, 2019, and Feb. 23, 2020 — the day Arbery was killed at the end of a five-minute chase by white men in pickup trucks.

Rash said he had been looking for Arbery, whose identity was unknown at the time, to tell him to keep away from the unfinished home. He said police had a standard protocol for handling people caught trespassing — a misdemeanor under Georgia law.

“Once we make contact with the person on the property, we explain to them the homeowner does not want them there, they have no legal reason to be there,” Rash said. He added: "I explain to that person, if you ever come back onto this property for any reason, you will be arrested.”

Arbery was killed before the officer could find him.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a truck after he ran past their home five doors down from the construction site on a Sunday afternoon. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, joined the chase in his own truck and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun.

More than two months passed before the three men were arrested on murder and other charges, after the graphic video leaked online and deepened a national reckoning over racial injustice.

All three men are standing trial at the Glynn County courthouse in coastal Brunswick. Defense attorneys say the men reasonably suspected Arbery was a burglar and were trying to hold him for police. They say Travis McMichael, 35, fired his gun in self-defense when Arbery attacked with his fists.

Larry English, who owns the unfinished home, has said there was no evidence Arbery stole anything from the site. Still, he said he was concerned that the same person kept coming in the house after dark.

A patrol officer assigned to the neighborhood, Rash said he was trying to track down the young man with tattoos and short twists in his hair who had been recorded inside English's house. He shared the clips with neighbors, including Greg McMichael, 65.

Rash said he shared Greg McMichael's phone number with English in a text message that noted Greg McMichael was a former police officer and retired investigator for the local district attorney. He said it was Greg McMichael's idea to let English know he could help watch the property.

“Did you deputize Greg McMichael? Did you give him any authority as a police officer?” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked Rash.

“No ma'am,” the officer replied, saying he never intended for Greg McMichael to do anything other than call police if the man was spotted inside the house again.

“Greg has training and experience," Rash said. “He in my opinion would be an expert witness to be on the phone with 911."

On Feb. 11, 2020, less than two weeks before Arbery was killed, Rash was again dispatched to the neighborhood after Travis McMichael called 911 and reported seeing the same man outside the unfinished home — and telling dispatchers the man reached for his pocket as if he had a gun.

The jury saw Rash's body camera video, which shows him entering the home with a flashlight and his gun drawn. Rash said Travis McMichael's report that the man could be armed made him more of a potential threat.

“So this was a different situation," said Robert Rubin, one of Travis McMichael's attorneys. "You're going into a house with a man who might have a gun.”

Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were justified in arming themselves before chasing Arbery because they feared he might have a gun. Police determined after the shooting that Arbery was unarmed.

When the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case involving Arbery's death in May, Bryan gave interviews to GBI Agent Jason Seacrist and rode in the agent's car to retrace the route of the deadly chase.

Seacrist testified Friday that Bryan backed away from statements he'd made to local police that he used his truck to run Arbery off the road. He said Bryan told him that he wanted to take a cellphone photo of the running man to show police.

“I figured if I slowed down and got a picture, maybe something would happen in the end rather than him just getting away and the cops not knowing who he was,” Bryan said, according to an interview transcript Seacrist read in court.

Seacrist said he asked Bryan why police would need a photo of Arbery, and Bryan replied: “I figured he had done something wrong. I didn’t know for sure.”

Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, noted that Seacrist had told Bryan at the time of their interviews that he was a witness in the case. The agent testified that Bryan wasn't under arrest at the time and had been told he was free to leave and stop talking at any time.

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Marcus Arbery, right, applauds as his former wife Wanda Cooper speaks about the slaying of their son Ahmaud Arbery as Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton stands between them outside the Glynn County courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Rev. Sharpton led a prayer and spoke out against injustice during the noon break in the trial of three men charged with murder in Ahmaud Abery's shooting death. (Terry Dickson/The Brunswick News via AP)

Credit: Terry Dickson

Marcus Arbery, right, applauds as his former wife Wanda Cooper speaks about the slaying of their son Ahmaud Arbery as Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton stands between them outside the Glynn County courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Rev. Sharpton led a prayer and spoke out against injustice during the noon break in the trial of three men charged with murder in Ahmaud Abery's shooting death.  (Terry Dickson/The Brunswick News via AP)
Caption
Marcus Arbery, right, applauds as his former wife Wanda Cooper speaks about the slaying of their son Ahmaud Arbery as Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton stands between them outside the Glynn County courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Rev. Sharpton led a prayer and spoke out against injustice during the noon break in the trial of three men charged with murder in Ahmaud Abery's shooting death. (Terry Dickson/The Brunswick News via AP)

Credit: Terry Dickson

Credit: Terry Dickson

Caption
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski shows a video of Ahmaud Arbery walking through a house under construction during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski shows a video of Ahmaud Arbery walking through a house under construction during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski shows a video of Ahmaud Arbery walking through a house under construction during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Travis McMichael's attorney Jason B. Sheffield, center, questions Glynn County Police Department Investigative Detective Parker Marcy, right, during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Travis McMichael's attorney Jason B. Sheffield, center, questions Glynn County Police Department Investigative Detective Parker Marcy, right, during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Travis McMichael's attorney Jason B. Sheffield, center, questions Glynn County Police Department Investigative Detective Parker Marcy, right, during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Travis McMichael's attorney's Robert Rubin, left, and Jason B. Sheffield, right, talk during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Travis McMichael's attorney's Robert Rubin, left, and Jason B. Sheffield, right, talk during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Travis McMichael's attorney's Robert Rubin, left, and Jason B. Sheffield, right, talk during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Defense attorney Kevin Gough argues an objection during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Defense attorney Kevin Gough argues an objection during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Defense attorney Kevin Gough argues an objection during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Defendant William "Roddie" Bryan reacts as his cell phone video of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery is played during his trial for Arbery's death at the Glynn County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Bryan, Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael are on trial for murder and other crimes for the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Sean Rayford

Defendant William "Roddie" Bryan reacts as his cell phone video of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery is played during his trial for Arbery's death at the Glynn County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Bryan, Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael are on trial for murder and other crimes for the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Defendant William "Roddie" Bryan reacts as his cell phone video of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery is played during his trial for Arbery's death at the Glynn County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Bryan, Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael are on trial for murder and other crimes for the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Sean Rayford

Credit: Sean Rayford

Caption
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, left, questions Glynn County Police Department Investigative Detective Parker Marcy, right, about his investigation during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, left, questions Glynn County Police Department Investigative Detective Parker Marcy, right, about his investigation during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, left, questions Glynn County Police Department Investigative Detective Parker Marcy, right, about his investigation during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Defendant Greg McMichael, right, speaks with defense attorney Laura Hogue during trial at the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged with the February 2021 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Sean Rayford

Defendant Greg McMichael, right, speaks with defense attorney Laura Hogue during trial at the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged with the February 2021 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Defendant Greg McMichael, right, speaks with defense attorney Laura Hogue during trial at the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged with the February 2021 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Sean Rayford

Credit: Sean Rayford

Caption
Travis McMichael sits with his attorney before the start of his trial in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Travis McMichael along with his father Greg and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Travis McMichael sits with his attorney before the start of his trial in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Travis McMichael along with his father Greg and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Travis McMichael sits with his attorney before the start of his trial in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Travis McMichael along with his father Greg and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Ahmaud Arbery's father Marcus Arbery, center, and his attorney Benjamin Crump, left, leave the Glynn County Courtroom during the trial of during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of his son 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Ahmaud Arbery's father Marcus Arbery, center, and his attorney Benjamin Crump, left, leave the Glynn County Courtroom during the trial of during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of his son 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Ahmaud Arbery's father Marcus Arbery, center, and his attorney Benjamin Crump, left, leave the Glynn County Courtroom during the trial of during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of his son 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Caption
Defense attorney Franklin Hogue, left, and prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, right, talk before the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan starts in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Three white men are on trial for murder and other crimes in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased and shot Feb. 23, 2020, after he was spotted running in a neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Defense attorney Franklin Hogue, left, and prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, right, talk before the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan starts in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Three white men are on trial for murder and other crimes in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased and shot Feb. 23, 2020, after he was spotted running in a neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Defense attorney Franklin Hogue, left, and prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, right, talk before the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan starts in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Three white men are on trial for murder and other crimes in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased and shot Feb. 23, 2020, after he was spotted running in a neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton