As of Thursday, William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr., is the third man to be arrested for the murder of #AhmaudArbery, the black 25-year-old man that was shot and killed February 23.
Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, said in Friday’s conference that he is confident his agency arrested the men responsible, reports the Washington Post. Arbery’s death has roiled a local community and prompted nationwide calls for justice that is long overdue.
Friday morning, Reynolds confirmed Bryan, Jr., 50, was arrested on Thursday and has been charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, which comes three months after the death of Arbery. Bryan, Jr. is accused of trying to “confine and detain” Arbery multiple times with his vehicle, CNN reports.
However, “Roddie’s” attorney repeatedly claims his client was only a witness that videotaped Arbery’s deadly encounter with the McMichaels, and because he did, we can have a prosecution.
“Mr. Bryan has committed no crime and bears no criminal responsibility in (Arbery’s) death,” Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough told reporters in a prepared statement Friday afternoon outside Glynn County’s courthouse, minutes ahead of Bryan’s initial court appearance. “Roddie passed a polygraph examination that effectively exonerates him of any criminal responsibility in this matter. “Notwithstanding the arrest of Mr. Bryan, however, and the hardship that he and his family must now endure, Roddie and I remain sympathetic to the Arbery family and to their request for justice for their son.”
When the GBI first came onto the case, they understood the upset over the two-month delay and realized the case had generated a “great deal of emotion and passion.” The agency promised a thorough investigation and said they would make additional arrests if facts led them to do so. Apparently, facts did. “If we believed he was just a witness, we wouldn’t have arrested him,” Reynolds said. “So there’s probable cause, and we’re comfortable with that.”
According to CNN, co-defendant Gregory McMichael alleges Bryan was not only videotaping from his vehicle but was trying to help him and his son, Travis McMichael stop Arbery earlier that day. The warrant on Bryan, Jr.’s false imprisonment reads:
“The accused (Bryan) did attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority by attempting to confine … Arbery and utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions” between 1 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. “with the intention of confining and detaining Arbery.”
Reynolds informed listeners of the conference that a person can be charged with felony murder in Georgia if he or she is alleged to have contributed to another’s’ death, even unintentionally, while committing another felony. The charge of attempted false imprisonment is that felony in this case.
Washington Post reports, Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Arbery’s family, has repeatedly called for Bryan’s arrest. After the GBI’s announcement Thursday, he and other attorneys for the family said in a statement that Bryan’s involvement in the killing was “obvious to us, too many around the country, and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well…. “We want anyone who participated in the murder of Mr. Arbery to be held accountable,” the attorneys added.
Before Bryan’s arrest, he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on May 11, he prays for the Arbery family every night and hopes the video “brings justice to the family and peace to the family.”