The man who filmed the father and son vigilantes gun down Ahmaud Arbery has claimed he was only a ‘witness’ to the unarmed black jogger’s slaying and handed the footage to cops ‘immediately’ – as he revealed he is receiving threats and has lost his job since authorities said he is under investigation.
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, the neighbor of Gregory and Travis McMichael whose cellphone footage exposed the shock killing to the world, was ‘in his yard and this just starts happening in front of him’, according to his attorney Kevin Gough.
Gough told reporters Friday Bryan is ‘not a vigilante’ and was unarmed at the time of Arbery’s killing.
He also said Bryan did not know he was under investigation over the shooting until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) announced it in a press conference Friday.
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan (left as his attorney released a statement Friday), who filmed the father and son vigilantes gun down Ahmaud Arbery (right), has claimed he was only a ‘witness’ to the unarmed black jogger’s slaying and handed the footage to cops ‘immediately’
This comes after Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the shooting death of Arbery, 25, in Brunswick, Georgia, back in February.
Director of the GBI Vic Reynolds said Friday that Bryan could be arrested for his part in the murder after he watched and shot the footage of the attack.
Bryan has now broken his silence over the murder of the black jogger at the hands of the white ex-cop and son, claiming he was only a witness and not an accomplice to the shocking attack.
Bryan claims he arrived at the scene after he saw Arbery running and being pursued by the McMichaels in their truck.
‘He was in his yard and this just starts happening in front of him,’ Gough told Weekend TODAY.
‘He gets in his car and is trying to document that.’
Bryan handed the footage over ‘immediately’ to police, he added.
Bryan (left) pictured with his attorney Kevin Gough (right) Friday has said he was ‘in his yard and this just starts happening in front of him’ so he got in his car and went to the scene
Bryan has received threats and has lost his job over the matter, his attorney said
When asked why Bryan was filming the attack, his attorney said ‘he was trying to get [Arbery’s] picture… because there had been a number of crimes in this neighborhood and he didn’t recognize him and a vehicle that he did recognize was following him.’
Glynn County Police Lt. Cheri Bashlor confirmed Friday that no burglaries had been reported in the neighborhood in the seven weeks leading up to Arbery’s death.
Gough released a statement to reporters Friday afternoon, while Bryan stood by his side, in which he again protested his client’s innocence and insisted he was a ‘witness to the tragic shooting and death of Ahmaud Arbery’.
‘From day one Mr Bryan has fully cooperated with law enforcement officers investigating this matter,’ he said in the First Coast News footage.
Gough said police were given the cellphone footage as soon as they arrived on the scene.
Bryan ‘disclosed the existence of the videotape and invited a responding Glynn County police officer to sit with him in his truck where they watched the video together,’ Gough said.
‘Mr Bryan went home and came back out to the crime scene shortly after at the request of law enforcement to further assist them and then later Mr Bryan voluntarily went to the Glynn County Police Department where he answered all the questions they had for him without a lawyer during a lengthy interview.’
Ahmaud Arbery and his mother Wanda Cooper Jones. Bryan may also face arrest for his part in the murder after he watched and shot the footage of the attack, authorities said Friday
Gough branded reports that Bryan had a firearm with him when he arrived on the scene ‘irresponsible’ and insisted he was ‘unarmed’.
He said the ‘family man’ ‘does not understand’ why he is being investigated over the shooting.
‘Despite his cooperation and for reasons he does not understand Mr Bryan has learned the family and apparently their lawyers are demanding he be arrested,’ said Gough.
‘He is not and never has been a vigilante. Mr Bryan had never been advised by any prosecutor or law enforcement officer that he was a target of investigation into Mr Abery’s death until the GBI announced it this morning in a press conference,’ he added.
Gough said Bryan and his family have become the target of ‘threats’ and he has lost his job following the GBI press conference.
‘Mr Bryan, his fiancee, his children, his siblings and other family members, friends and neighbors now live in fear despite the fact that Mr Bryan has committed no crime and fully cooperated with the investigation into the shooting,’ the attorney said.
Claims of Bryan’s innocence contradict a memo from one of the former district attorneys on the case which said Bryan had joined in the pursuit of the innocent jogger.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation director Vic Reynolds (pictured center) said authorities are ‘investigating everyone involved in the case including the individual who shot that video’
Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George E. Barnhill said in the memo, obtained by USA Today, that all three men were in ‘hot pursuit of a burglary suspect’.
In a press conference Friday, GBI Director Reynolds would not rule out the possibility of Bryan being arrested and charged in connection to Arbery’s murder.
‘Is there anyone else going to be charged in this case?’ Reynolds said the community was asking him.
‘I tell you that this is an active, ongoing case and investigation. If the facts take [officers] to make another arrest then they will do that.’
When pressed if this means Bryan will face charges over Arbery’s death, Reynolds said: ‘Don’t know yet – we’ll go wherever the evidence takes us. If there is probable cause for arrest, we’ll do it. If there isn’t, we won’t.’
He added that Bryan’s video of the fatal confrontation, which took place on February 23, was a key piece of evidence.
Authorities are ‘investigating everyone involved in the case including the individual who shot that video,’ he added.
It is not yet clear what Bryan could be charged with.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the victim’s family, called for Bryan’s arrest for aiding and abetting the McMichaels in Arbery’s murder.
‘This is William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – who we believe may have been the third person in pursuit of #AhmaudArbery. If he chased down Ahmaud and filmed his execution, he should be arrested and charged with aiding and abetting them in committing this crime of murder. #RunWithMaud,’ Crump wrote in a Twitter post Thursday.
Exclusive photos show the moment Gregory McMichael (pictured) and his son Travis McMichael were arrested at their home in Brunswick, Georgia, on Thursday
An officer with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is seen leading 34-year-old Travis McMichael out of the home in handcuffs
Gregory, 64, and Travis, 34, are pictured in their mugshots. It has also emerged that Gregory, who worked as an investigator in the Brunswick DA’s office, helped prosecute Arbery in the past
Bryan lives just a few houses away from the McMichaels, close to where the killing took place.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the GBI for comment about Bryan’s involvement and any potential charges he faces.
The attorney who leaked the footage shot by Bryan to the press revealed Friday he did it because he believed it would clear the McMichaels of any crime.
Attorney Alan Tucker told Inside Edition Friday that he was a close friend of the two men charged with Arbery’s murder.
‘I really thought releasing the video would put the truth out to the public,’ Tucker stated.
‘If he [Arbery] had just froze and hadn’t done anything, then he wouldn’t have been shot.’
Gregory and Travis have been charged with murder and aggravated assault for the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery (pictured)
However after the video was uploaded to the internet Tuesday it quickly went viral and sparked nationwide outrage.
Presumptive Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden said it showed the McMichaels killing Aubrey ‘in cold blood’.
The father and son were subsequently arrested Thursday and have been charged with murder and aggravated assault.
Many Americans are outraged that it has taken more than two months for the assailants to be arrested.
Protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Brunswick Friday – what would have been the victim’s 26th birthday.
A crowd of several hundred people, most wearing masks, sang ‘Happy Birthday’ in his honor outside the Glynn County Courthouse.
President Donald Trump broke his silence over the killing that has shaken America, calling the video showing Arbery’s murder ‘disturbing’.
‘I looked at a picture of that young man. He was in a tuxedo … I will say that that looks like a really good young guy,’ Trump said on Fox & Friends Friday.
‘My heart goes out to the parents and the families and friends,’ he added while stating that he believed Georgia governor Brian Kemp would investigate the matter ‘strongly’.
People react during a rally Friday morning outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man what would have been his 26th birthday
Protesters gathered for a march through Brunswick on Tuesday – the same day shocking footage of Arbery’s death went viral
‘[Brian Kemp] is going to do what’s right. It’s a heartbreaking thing. That was very rough, rough stuff.
‘Justice getting done is the thing that solves the [racial problem]. Again, it is in the hands of the governor and I’m sure he’ll do the right thing. It could be something that we didn’t see on tape. If you saw, things went off tape and then back on tape.’
According to a report in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson blocked police from arresting the father and son team because she was friends with Gregory McMichael.
McMichael, an ex-cop, had worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office until his retirement in 2019 causing Johnson to recused herself from the case a few days after the shooting.
‘She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael,’ Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker told The Atlanta Journal Constition.
‘They were told not to make the arrest,’ added Commissioner Peter Murphy, who said he also spoke directly to Glynn County police about the incident and that officers had said there was probable cause for arrest before this.
DailyMail.com reached out to the DA’s office for comment but a representative was not available.
It has also emerged that Gregory, who worked as an investigator in the Brunswick DA’s office, helped prosecute Arbery in the past, Barnhill revealed.
Arbery can be seen stumbling to the ground as the clip comes to a close
Shocking cellphone video captured the moment the McMichaels confronted Arbery in the street. In the footage Travis is seen engaging in a physical fight with Arbery before shooting him with a shotgun
In a letter to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr recusing himself from the case, Barnhill said his son and Gregory ‘both helped with the previous prosecution of (Ahmaud) Arbery’.
Gregory, who retired from the DA’s office in 2019, had not mentioned his involvement in the case to police.
Arbery was shot dead while out jogging on February 23 by the McMichaels.
The killers evaded prosecution for more than two months, after the father and son team initially claimed they thought Arbery was a burglar after a spate of thefts in the area, and that he attacked them when they tried to make a citizen’s arrest.
But shocking cellphone footage – taken by Bryan – was leaked this week, showing the two men chasing and gunning down the victim in the street.
The video showed the men ‘ambushing’ Arbery as he tried to run past their pickup truck.
In the harrowing footage, Arbery is seen running at a jogging pace on the left side of a road.
A truck is parked in the road ahead of him. Gregory is inside the pickup’s bed, while Travis is standing beside the open driver’s side door.
Arbery 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 Arbery grappling with Travis in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle.
A second shot can be heard, and Arbery can be seen punching Travis. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. Arbery staggers a few feet and falls face down.
The leak of the video sparked outrage across the nation with LeBron James, Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner all leading cries for the McMichaels to be charged with murder.
The GBI took over the investigation on Tuesday after the video emerged and the McMichaels were finally arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault Thursday.
TIMELINE OF BOTCHED HANDLING OF THE CASE
February 23: Ahmaud Arbery is shot dead in the street in Brunswick, Georgia.
Gregory and Travis McMichael had gone out in their car with guns to chase him because they mistook him for a burglar.
When they caught up to him, Travis got out of the car.
Jackie Johnson recused herself because McMichael used to work in her office
Greg says they told Arbery that they wanted to talk to him and that he attacked Travis. A struggle ensued and Travis fired his gun twice, killing Ahmaud, 25.
Late February – First prosecutor recuses herself
Jackie Johnson, the Brunswick District Attorney, stepped down from the case because Gregory used to work in her office as an investigator.
Mid-April – Second prosecutor says he won’t press charges, then recuses himself
George Barnhill said Ahmaud initiated the fight
George Barnhill was given the case.
He at first said he did not think it merited charges because the McMichaels were acting lawfully by trying to carry out a citizen’s arrest, which is legal in Georgia.
He also said that the video ‘shows’ Arbery reaching for Travis’ gun.
Barnhill recused himself because his son, also called George Barnhill, works in the office where McMichael used to
The first shot is fired however when the pair are out of frame.
When the camera panned back to them, they were struggling again to the side of the vehicle.
Barnhill said Travis was standing his ground by firing three shots which hit Arbery.
He later had to recuse himself after it emerged that his son works in the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office, where Gregory served.
May 5 – Third prosecutor passes it on to grand jury
Tom Durden is the third prosecutor to have the case come across his desk.
He said that his office would approach it without prior prejudice.
This week, he announced that he would not make a decision on whether or not to charge, and that he wants to convene a grand jury to take it on.
May 7 – Georgia Bureau of Investigation files charges
The GBI announced that it was bringing charges of murder and aggravated assault against the Gregory and Travis on May 7.