The man who filmed the video of Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death says he’s being wrongfully accused by Arbery’s family, their lawyers, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which announced on Friday it was looking at what role he played in the deadly incident in February, First Coast News reported.
William “Roddie” Bryan is a neighbor of Gregory and Travis McMichael, the father and son who were arrested on Thursday and charged in Arbery’s death. In the police report about the incident, he is said to have unsuccessfully “attempted to stop” Arbery as he jogged in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick shortly before the confrontation with the McMichaels that ended in Arbery’s death.
The McMichaels claimed that Arbery resembled a suspect in a series of robberies, and they intended to make a “citizen’s arrest,” as CrimeOnline previously reported. Glynn County police, however, said there had been no reported robberies in nearly two months before the shooting, except for a gun stolen from Travis McMichael’s unlocked truck.
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With Bryan standing silently beside him, attorney Kevin Gough read a statement to reporters on Friday saying Bryan “has committed no crime and fully cooperated with the investigation into the shooting.”
“Despite his cooperation, and for reasons that he does not understand, Mr. Bryan has learned that the family and apparently their lawyers are demanding that he be arrested,” Gough said, adding that because of those demands, Bryan has lost his job, and he and his family are receiving death threats.
“Contrary to irresponsible media reports, Mr. Bryan was unarmed at the time of the shooting,” he said. “Roddie is a family man, NASCAR fan, and enjoys rock and roll. He is not now, and never has been, a ‘vigilante.'”
Gough asked the GBI to “promptly review the file again and clear his good name.”
Gough said that Bryan voluntarily shared the video with investigating officers in February and that he believed police had made a copy of the video at that time. It’s existence was unknown, however, until last week, when a local attorney who had reportedly consulted with the McMichaels released it to WGIG, a Brunswick radio station.
Tucker said he released the video in an attempt to ease tension, the New York Times reported. “It wasn’t two men with a Confederate flag in the back of a truck going down the road and shooting a jogger in the back,” he said. “It got the truth out there as to what you could see. My purpose was not to exonerate them or convict them.”
The video shows Bryan driving down a two-lane street, apparently catching up to Arbery who was ahead of him. Arbery is seen rounding a curve and approaching the McMichaels’s truck, with Gregory standing in the bed and Travis outside holding a shotgun. What happens next, however, differs from what the McMichaels said in the police report.
In the video, Arbery runs to the right of the truck, which is stopped in the street. Travis McMichael steps in front of the truck as Arbery comes around, and a gunshot is heard. Both men come out to the left of the truck with Arbery appearing to be trying to take the shotgun away from McMichael. The two men go out of the frame, a second gunshot is heard, and a puff a smoke can be seen. Both men return to the frame, Arbery still trying to pull the gun away from McMichael. A third shot fires, and Arbery staggers away and falls face first onto the pavement.
In the police report, Gregory McMichael says Travis, driving the truck, pulled up alongside Arbery and shouted for him to stop “at which time Travis exited the truck with the shotgun.” Then, McMichael said, “the unidentified male began to violently attack Travis.”
“The two men then began fighting over the shotgun at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was another shot,” the report says.
The release of the video sent to story flying outside the small coastal community where the shooting took place and brought tight scrutiny to a story in which two district attorneys had recused themselves over connections with Gregory McMichael, a former police officer and investigator in the Brunswick DA’s office. The second DA, from nearby Waycross, stepped aside because his son worked in the Brunswick DA’s office — two months after taking the case and days after telling the Glynn County Police Department he say “no grounds” to arrest anyone, as CrimeOnline reported earlier.
The third DA to look at the case, Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial District in Hinesville, first said last week he planned to take the case to a grand jury, only hours later to ask the GBI to look into it. The GBI did so, two days later arresting the McMichaels and saying they were looking at whether to charge Bryan.
Read all our reporting on this story here.
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[Featured image: Ahmaud Arbery/Family handout; Gregory and Travis McMichael/Glynn County Police Department]