Man who filmed Ahmaud Arbery shooting charged with murder
Arrest of William 'Roddie' Bryan follows those of father, son in Georgia man's death
The Georgia man who filmed Ahmaud Arbery's fatal shooting was arrested Thursday and charged with murder in his death.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said 50-year-old William "Roddie" Bryan was arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. No other details were given. The GBI said in a statement that it would hold a news conference Friday morning.
Arbery was slain Feb. 23 after a white father and son armed themselves and pursued him after spotting the 25-year-old black man running in their neighborhood. More than two months passed before authorities arrested Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.
Bryan lives in the same subdivision, and the smartphone video he took from the cab of his vehicle helped stir a national outcry when it leaked online May 5.
The video quickly drew a strong reaction from Georgia Gov. Bryan Kemp, a Republican who called it "absolutely horrific." The Georgia Bureau of Investigation soon took over the case from local police, and the arrests of the McMichaels followed on May 7.
Under Georgia law, a person can be charged with felony murder for committing any felony that causes the death of someone else. It does not require intent to kill and carries an automatic life sentence.
In the Glynn County police incident report on the shooting, Gregory McMichael told an officer that at one point Arbery "began running back the direction from which he came and 'Roddy' attempted to block him which was unsuccessful." It's the only mention in the police report of any potential involvement by Bryan.
Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, did not immediately return a phone message.
He has previously insisted Bryan played no role in Arbery's death.
"Roddie Bryan is not now, and has never been, more than a witness to the shooting," Gough said in a statement on Monday. "He is not a vigilante. Roddie did not participate in the horrific killing of this young man. Mr. Bryan has committed no crime, and bears no criminal responsibility in the death of Ahmaud Arbery."
Video shot from vehicle that followed Arbery
Meanwhile, attorneys for Arbery's parents cheered the news of Bryan's arrest.
"We called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process," attorneys S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart said in a statement. "His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us, to many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well."
Bryan's video of the shooting was taken from the driver's seat of a vehicle following Arbery as he runs along a residential street.
The video shows a black man running at a jogging pace on the left side of a road. A truck is parked in the road ahead of him. A white man is inside the pickup's bed, another is standing beside the open driver's side door.
The runner crosses the road to pass the pickup on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. A gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle. A second shot can be heard, and the runner can be seen punching the man. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls face-down.
Gregory McMichael retired last year after more than two decades as an investigator for the local prosecutor's office. Because of those ties, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case. Two outside prosecutors assigned the case have also stepped aside.
The McMichaels weren't arrested until May 7, after the GBI took over the shooting investigation from Glynn County police. Soon after the bureau's involvement was announced, a Brunswick attorney with access to the shooting video released it to a local radio station — and copies soon proliferated online.
The McMichaels remain jailed in Glynn County waiting for a preliminary court hearing and for a judge to decide whether to free them on bond pending trial. Attorneys for the father and son have urged people not to rush to judgment in the case.