A man who filmed the alleged murder of Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery admitted to police that he tried to block him before Arbery was ultimately killed by a father and son, who also had been trying to block him.
Bodycam footage released this week by Action News Jax show William Roddie Bryan speaking to police officers shortly after Gregory and Travis McMichael stopped in the middle of a residential street in February as Arbery tried to run past them. Travis McMichael ended up in a scuffle with Arbery and shot the jogger three times.
Bryan, who previously said he had nothing to do with the shooting, told an officer on the day of the incident that he “made a few moves” at Arbery after there had been break-ins in the neighborhood.
— Ryan Nelson (@RyanANJax) December 15, 2020
“I pulled out of my driveway and was going to try to block him,” Bryan said. “But he was going all around – I made a few moves at him, you know, and he didn’t stop.”
Bryan is now behind bars facing murder and related charges, but prior to his arrest, he granted a television interview in which he claimed he was simply a witness to the incident and didn’t actually partake in it.
“Truthfully, I need to be cleared of this because I had nothing to do with it,” Bryan said during an interview with Action News Jax.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a video recorded by Bryan in February allegedly showed the McMichaels chasing Arbery for several minutes around the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, while in their truck, before blocking him in. The McMichaels suspected that Arbery was responsible for a string of break-ins in the neighborhood, although they had no proof of their claims.
Bryan, who also pursued Arbery in his vehicle, blocked Arbery with his truck from behind as the McMichaels circled around the blocked and stopped in front of the victim. Travis McMichael then got out of his truck, armed with a shotgun. A scuffle broke out and Travis McMichael ended up shooting Arbery three times.
Arbery, unarmed, died at the scene.
During a court hearing in June, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Richard Dial provided testimony that provided a glimpse into the suspects’ alleged racist views. Key points of Dial’s testimony include:
- Neighbors told authorities that they had seen Arbery jogging several times previously in the neighborhood, and often waved and spoke to him.
- Social media messages sent by Bryan indicated that he used the n-word to describe black people.
- Travis McMichael admitted he shot Arbery three times during the heat of the moment and that his adrenaline was pumping.
- Bryan told police he heard Travis McMichael yell “fu***** n*****” after shooting Arbery and while standing over his body.
- The McMichaels never called 911 before pursuing him.
- Arbery ran in a ditch to avoid the suspects, but when he emerged and tried to leave the neighborhood, the suspects wouldn’t let him.
- Bryan hit Arbery with his truck when Arbery tried to exit the neighborhood.
- Bryan waited until after the McMichaels’ arrests before he admitted to hearing the racial slur. He never mentioned it previously.
- Travis McMichael used racial epitaphs numerous times over text messages and social media. He allegedly said he wished someone would “blow that fu***** n****** head off.”
- In another instance, Travis McMichael, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard, said he loved his job because he “was on a boat and there weren’t any N-words anywhere.”
Defense lawyers for the suspects argued that murder charges should be dropped. Franklin Hogue, a lawyer for Gregory McMichael, said that his client had a valid reason to believe Arbery committed a crime. McMichael, however, previously admitted that he wasn’t sure if Arbery had been responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood, but had a “gut feeling.”
Travis McMichael’s lawyer, Jason Sheffield, argued that his client was defending himself during a scuffle with Arbery.
Sheffield: “Travis McMichael used self-defense when he was attacked by Mr. Arbery.”
Dial: “I don’t think it was self-defense by Mr. McMichael. I believe it was self-defense by Mr. Arbery.”
All three defendants remain behind bars without bond on charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, malice murder, felony murder, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds previously said that if he thought Bryan was simply a witness, he would have never been arrested. Reynolds added that Bryann didn’t actually have to be the shooter to be charged with felony murder in Georgia.
“Felony murder is a crime in Georgia where if you are committing a felony crime and that crime ends up in the death of another human being, then that’s a felony murder,” Reynolds told First Coast News.
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[Feature Photo: Ahmaud Arbery/Handout]