Ahmaud Arbery was still standing after being shot twice at close-range because he was in “fight-or-flight” mode – even though just one of the bullets that left a gaping hole in his chest and armpit were enough to kill him, a Georgia medical examiner testified Tuesday.
Dr. Edmund Donoghue, who performed an autopsy on the 25-year-old, told jurors Arbery was struck by two of three shotgun rounds fired at him in February last year after he was chased down by three white men currently on trial for his murder.
The first shot at close range tore through an artery in Arbery’s right wrist and punched a large hole in the center of his chest, Donoghue said.
The second shot missed entirely, while the third shot ripped through a major artery and vein near Arbery’s left armpit and fractured bones in his shoulder and arm.
Donoghue testified Arbery’s cause of death was “’multiple shotgun wounds” – but he said either shotgun blast would have been enough to kill him.
Cellphone video of the incident captured Arbery being shot as he threw punches and tried to grab the gun after being chased down.
Asked how Arbery was still standing after being shot, Donoghue said he would have a “fight-or-flight reaction” that can, in part, produce adrenaline.
“When you run into a situation that is stressful or that you are afraid of, or is going to cause anxiety, your body – the amygdala in the brain – will correlate a flight or fight response,” he said.
“As soon as he realized there was a threatening situation, that response would start.”
The jury was shown graphic autopsy images of the gunshot wounds Arbery sustained, as well as photos of his blood-soaked clothing that had been torn apart by the bullets.
Other images shown to jurors included abrasions on Arbery’s face, which Donoghue said occurred when he fell face down in the street after the third gunshot.
When asked if there was anything EMS could have done to save Arbery’s life at the scene, Donoghue replied: “I don’t think so. No.”
In relation to the chest wound, Donoghue said EMS would have had a difficult time stopping the bleeding while the heart was still pumping.
He testified that the wound to his arm pit alone could have caused his death “because it involved the axillary artery and axillary vein which are large blood vessels that go to the upper extremity.”
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael are accused of arming themselves and chasing down Arbery in their truck as he ran past their home in the Satilla Shores subdivision outside the port city of Brunswick on Feb. 23 last year.
Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase in his own truck and filmed the younger McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with his shotgun.
Defense attorneys argue the men were trying to make a citizen’s arrest because they suspected Arbery of stealing — and that Travis fired in self-defense after Arbery tried to take his gun.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to murder and other crimes.
With Post wires