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Ahmaud Arbery's mother says last moments of his life were heartbreaking

Among those who learned more about Ahmaud Arbery's death at a preliminary hearing on Thursday was his mother, who called the revelations heartbreaking....

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 4:00 AM

Among those who learned more about Ahmaud Arbery's death at a preliminary hearing on Thursday was his mother, who called the revelations heartbreaking.

"I often imagine the last minutes of my son's life," Wanda Cooper said. "I didn't imagine it would be that harsh."

Arbery, who is black, was jogging in the neighborhood of Satilla Shores, Georgia, in February when he was chased down and shot three times.

Three men have been charged in his death.

Before he was shot, the men hit Arbery with a truck as he tried to escape, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial testified Thursday.

The hearing determined that all three defendants, Travis McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and William "Roddie" Bryan, would stand trial.

"At this point, I'm really speechless because ... it's hard to know that he had to go through that after he had ran. He actually ran for his life. Then when he couldn't run anymore, he had to fight, and then after he fought, he was killed," Cooper said.

"What we learned from the testimony that went forward, that this was an intentional act by men who were motivated by hate," Lee Merritt, the attorney for Arbery's family told CNN's Chris Cuomo. He said he was deeply impacted sitting next to Arbery's mother as the testimony came out.

"I like to think I can be pretty composed, but as I saw her begin to be impacted by those words, I began to break down," he said.

The hearing comes as many in the US are protesting the death of another black man, George Floyd, who died in police custody.

"I'm hoping that the death of my son, also of Mr. Floyd, that their deaths will implement change," Cooper said. "We need change. So no other African-American male will lose their life in such a manner."

What testimony revealed

The pursuit that ended in Arbery's death began with, as Gregory McMichael said, a "gut feeling" that he was responsible for thefts in the neighborhood, Dial testified Thursday.

The McMichaels began to chase the jogger, and Bryan joined in his truck, Dial said.

Bryan, who filmed video of the incident that went viral, "made several statements about trying to block him in and using his vehicle to try to stop him," Dial said. "His statement was that Mr. Arbery kept jumping out of the way and moving around the bumper and actually running down into the ditch in an attempt to avoid his truck."

Arbery began running out of the neighborhood, when the McMichaels in their truck forced him to turn back and he was struck by Bryan's vehicle, Dial said.

That is when Travis McMichael jumped out of the truck, armed with a firearm, and struggled with Arbery, firing the gun three times.

Dial testified that Bryan told police Travis McMichael said "f***ing n***er" as Arbery lay dead in the street.

The agent said, there were "numerous times" on social media and via messaging services that McMichael used the same slur, once messaging someone that he loved his job because there "weren't any N-words anywhere."

The McMichaels, charged with murder and aggravated assault, appeared wearing face masks from the Glynn County Detention Center a few miles away from the courthouse. Their attorneys claimed there is evidence they are not guilty.

Bryan waived his right to appear. He was arrested last month on charges that include felony murder. His attorney argued he was just an observer to the incident.

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