The man who videotaped the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery on the Sunday afternoon of Feb. 23 in the Satilla Shores neighborhood is in seclusion, worried for the safety of himself and his family, his lawyer said in a statement.
William “Roddie” Bryan used his cellphone to videotape the deadly incident, holding the phone up to the front windshield of a vehicle while steering with his left hand. The video shows Arbery running down a neighborhood street in Satilla Shores, Bryan following behind him and recording as Arbery comes upon Gregory McMichael and son Travis McMichael, stopped in the road in a pickup truck up ahead.
Arbery was shot three times with a shotgun after he was confronted by Travis McMichael.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents arrested the McMichaels May 7, charging both with felony murder and aggravated assault.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said at a May 8 press conference that Bryan might face criminal charges for his role in the incident.
Attorneys for Arbery’s parents have likewise demanded Bryan be arrested.
However, defense attorney Kevin Gough said Monday Bryan has cooperated fully with GBI investigators. His only participation in the incident was making the video, which Gough said will likely serve as key evidence.
Gough further suggested Bryan may be willing to cooperate with prosecutors.
Bryan, his children and his fiance are in hiding after receiving numerous death threats, Gough said. “Mr. Bryan is not your enemy,” Gough said, addressing attorneys Benjamin Crump and S. Lee Merritt, attorneys for Arbery’s parents. “Please stop doing and saying things that place the lives of Roddie and his family in danger ... If not for the sake of my client’s family then for the sake of the Arbery family and the cause you fight for. Killing off the star witness for the prosecution will not help bring Ahmaud’s killers to justice.”
A man identified as “Roddy” is named as a participant Arbery’s pursuit, according to the police report. William R. Bryan is listed in the report as a witness. In the report’s narrative, Gregory McMichael told police at one point “Roddy” allegedly tried to block Arbery’s path.
“McMichael stated (Arbery) turned around and began running back in the direction from which he came and ‘Roddy’ attempted to block him which was unsuccessful,” the police report’s narrative said.
Gough maintains that Bryan is innocent of any crime and said he is confident the GBI investigation will reach the same conclusion.
“From day one, Mr. Bryan has fully cooperated with law enforcement officers investigating this matter,” Gough said. “We expect the depth and breadth of that cooperation will be revealed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in due course. .. Roddie Bryan is not now, and has never been, more than just a witness to this shooting. He is not a vigilante. Mr. Bryan has committed no crime.”
The GBI would not comment further Wednesday on possible charges against Bryan.
“We are not releasing further investigative details about the Arbery murder investigation as it is very active and ongoing,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.
In related news:
• Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents conducted a search warrant Tuesday evening at the Satailla Shores home of Gregory and Travis McMichael. GBI agents entered the 230 Satilla Drive residence at 6:39 p.m. as part of their ongoing investigation into the shooting death. The GBI released no further information.
• Georgia’s Congressional Delegation in the House of Representative called on the U.S. Department of Justice to employ all its resources to ensure “full justice, transparency and accountability in the case of Ahmaud Arbery,” according to a statement released by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, Wednesday.
The letter was addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Eric S. Drieband, assistant AG of the civil rights division.
Earlier this month, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr summoned the DOJ to investigate the handling of the case by Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Waycross DA George E. Barnhill.
“In particular, we encourage you to honor Georgia Attorney General Carr’s efforts and actions, and we hope the department will provide strong assistance to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) inquiries regarding the criminal investigation and possible misconduct,” the Georgia Congressional Delegation’s letter read.
“As GBI conducts its investigation, federal authorities and resources must provide unequivocal, unbiased technical aid and resources for this critical process.”