William ‘Roddy’ Bryan filmed Ahmaud Arbery’s killing in Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23
The neighbor who filmed Ahmaud Arbery’s killing said on Tuesday that he is ‘not proud’ of recording it on his cell phone but that without his video, there may never be justice for the unarmed 25-year-old’s death as he insisted again that he is not a vigilante and just happened to be there.
William ‘Roddy’ Bryan captured the moment Arbery was shot dead by Travis McMichael, 34, on February 23 while his former cop father, Gregory, watched from the cargo load of their pick-up truck with his own shotgun poised.
The McMichaels had followed Arbery – whose family says he was out for a jog – down their street in Brunswick, Georgia, allegedly because they thought he was a burglary suspect.
They told police there had been a number of break-ins in their neighborhood and that Arbery had been caught on surveillance cameras entering homes. Footage has since emerged of the 25-year-old walking into an under-construction home shortly before he was killed then leaving empty handed. While he had prior arrests for shoplifting and assault, there is no proof he ever broke into homes.
After a botched handling of the case over three months, during which time it has been passed between four prosecutors – some of whom used to work with Gregory McMichael – the father and son vigilante duo were last week arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. Now, the Department of Justice is weighing federal hate crimes against them.
The arrests came after Bryan’s cellphone video of the incident went viral.
In a still from the video filmed by William ‘Roddy’ Bryan, Ahmaud Arbery stumbles and falls to the ground after being shot as Travis McMichael stands by holding a shotgun in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23
On Tuesday, he appeared on Good Morning America to insist that he does not know the McMichaels and that he was not part of a vigilante mob going after Arbery.
His house is not on the same street as the McMichaels’ but sits along the intersection where Arbery was killed. He says he saw the commotion happening near him and decided to film it.
‘I wish I hadn’t have been there but if I hadn’t have been there, there wouldn’t have been no video. I
‘If the video wasn’t there, I don’t think there would be an outcome that anybody would be satisfied with.
‘I’m not proud that I shot the video but maybe it helps in the end,’ he said.
He went on to say he had ‘tons’ of regrets, including that Arbery died.
‘Tons of regrets, yes. Can I sit here and tell you what they are? No. I regret that family lost a loved one.
‘That’s just not something that should have happened,’ Bryan told Good Morning America on Tuesday.
Ahmaud Arbery inside the under-construction home on February 23, the day he was killed. He walked into the house then left empty handed and was later shot dead by Travis McMichael who had chased him with his father, Gregory, a former cop
Ahmaud was killed while out jogging on February 23. It is unclear if he had come from his mother’s house, which is just under two miles from where the shooting unfolded. The McMichaels said they saw him ‘hauling a**’ down Satilla Drive and that he’d been seen on surveillance cameras inside homes near them but it’s unclear which homes they were referring to. He was shot and killed at an intersection not far from the houses
Gregory McMichael is believed to be the only person who called 911. Two calls were placed to dispatchers before Arbery was shot dead, including one where the caller described a ‘black guy running down the street’ claiming he’d been caught on surveillance cameras entering homes in the neighborhood.
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
Gregory 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.
May 11 – Department of Justice says it is weighing hate crime charges against the McMichaels
Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr orders the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct a federal probe into why it took 74 days for the men to be arrested.
The case is also given to Joyette Holmes, a black prosecutor .
Bryan’s own lawyer tried to stop him from answering questions on the incident on Monday night during a joint appearance on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show.
He told Cuomo, who is a licensed attorney: ‘This man cannot be answering substantive questions about the case.
”With all due respect, I’m not afraid of you, I respect you. You’re a brilliant, a very good prosecutor. And my client is a mechanic with a high school education and if you’ve ever been to the high schools around here, that’s not necessarily saying much. Okay? And I don’t mind if the board of education doesn’t like it.’
President Trump on Monday suggested that there could have been another portion of the incident that was not caught on tape.
‘Well I saw the tape and when they moved left – I don’t believe when they moved left, outside of the tape – nobody saw what was going on. Nobody saw,’ Trump said at the White House when asked about the killing of Arbery, who is black.
‘It’s an empty spot on the tape, I guess. Now, do they have additional tapes, I hope?’ Trump said.
Previously, he said that the footage was ‘very disturbing’.
Yesterday it was revealed an autopsy had found Arbery was killed by two close-range gunshot wounds to the chest and that he was also shot through the hand while being chased down by the McMichaels.
TMZ obtained Ahmaud’s autopsy on Monday. The 25-year-old had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and was carrying two tan bandannas which were soaked with blood.
It has taken nearly three months and three different prosecutors for Travis and Gregory McMichael to be arrested and charged with his killing.
Georgia’s Attorney General is now investigating the handling of the case amid claims that prosecutors passed it off to protect 64-year-old Gregory, a former police detective who recently worked in the local district attorney’s office.
The case has sparked outrage around the world and some say it is proof of persistent racism in the South. Over the weekend, people ran to honor what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday and armed protesters took to the street.
On Monday, DoJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said: ‘The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate’.
The McMichaels have both been charged by the state of Georgia with murder and aggravated assault which carry maximum prison sentences of life.
Georgia has no hate crimes as a state but the federal charge carries a maximum prison sentence of life when the hate crime results in death. A federal prosecution would supersede a state case and could negate it if the defendants were found guilty and the need for a state prosecution reduced.
It comes as new surveillance video Arbery walking into a construction site on the day of his death, looking around the property and then leaving empty handed the day he was gunned down emerged.
But the new video obtained by News4Jax appears to undermine their shaky burglary suspect claim. It shows Ahmaud walking into an under-construction house in Brunswick, looking around and then leaving without taking anything.
In the two months before Ahmaud’s killing, there were no reports of suspected burglaries in the area, and the owner of the under-construction property has spoken out to say they have no links to the McMichaels whatsoever.
The video was shared by the property owner who said they had never had any contact with the McMichaels let alone did they call for them to investigate any break-ins.
The attorney representing Ahmaud’s family says the video shows that at most, Ahmaud would have been guilty of trespassing.
It’s unclear what time the video on the construction site was taken.
According to the police report into his death, Ahmaud was shot dead at 1.46pm.
A time stamp on a different surveillance camera video says he entered the construction site at 2.13pm. It’s possible that camera was inaccurately running an hour fast.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it is now investigating the video along with the cellphone footage of Ahmaud’s killing that went viral.
The property is owned by Larry English.
Over the weekend, he released a statement through an attorney to say he neither called for the McMichaels to go after Ahmaud, nor did he condone in any way how they killed him.
‘First, and most important, the English family — the homeowners — want Ahmaud Arbery’s parents to know that they are very sorry for the loss of their son and they are praying for them.
‘Second, it is crucial to understand that the English family — the homeowners — were not part of what the McMichaels did.
Kevin Gough (right), Bryan’s attorney, wouldn’t let Chris Cuomo question him about the case on Monday night claiming Cuomo was too good a lawyer and his client only had a high school education
‘The first accounts suggested a link between the McMichaels and the homeowners, but there is none.
‘The English family had no relationship with the McMichaels and did not even know what had occurred until after Mr. Arbery’s death was reported to them.
‘After seeing Mr. Arbery’s photo in news reports, Larry English did not even think Mr. Arbery was the person that appears in this video.
‘Even if it had been, however, Mr. English would never have sought a vigilante response, much less one resulting in a tragic death,’ his attorney, Elizabeth Graddy, told First Coast News.
Ahmaud’s parents’ lawyer confirmed that it is him in the video.
‘This video is consistent with the evidence already known to us.
‘Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. He stopped by a property under construction where he engaged in no illegal activity and remained for only a brief period.
‘Ahmaud did not take anything from the construction site. He did not cause any damage to the property,’ Lee Merritt said.
Some of the protesters held up signs which read ‘Our lives matter too!’ and ‘Dear white people, when you don’t call out racism you are upholding white supremacy by default!’
Hundreds of people alongside some 300 bikers gathered in Brunswick to honor Arbery on Saturday
Last week, after growing global outrage, the case was taken out of local prosecutors’ hands to be investigated by the state.
Gregory and Travis were both charged with murder and aggravated assault.
Greg McMichael had investigated Arbery before when he worked as an investigator in the Brunswick DA’s office.
In a letter to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr recusing himself from the case, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill said that his own son and Gregory ‘both helped with the previous prosecution of (Ahmaud) Arbery’.
Arbery had previously been sentenced to five years probation as a first offender on charges of carrying a weapon on campus and several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer.
According to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he was also convicted of probation violation in 2018 after he was charged with shoplifting.
Gregory, who retired from the DA’s office in 2019, had not mentioned his involvement in the case to police.
George E. Barnhill was the second DA to recuse himself in mid-April following pressure from Arbery’s family. He claims he only learned of his son’s link to the victim ‘three or four weeks’ ago.
In his letter, Barnhill added that criminal charges against the McMichaels was unwarranted, citing the criminal history of Arbery’s brother and cousin