The man whose video capturing the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery aided in the arrest Greg and Travis McMichael last week is now speaking out. William Roddie Bryan claims he is now getting death threats even though he denies having any involvement in the confrontation that led to Arbery’s death. According to an announcement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bryan is also under investigation for his role in the shooting he captured.
“I had nothing to do with it. I’m trying to get my life back to normal, and it’s been smeared for the last week,” Bryan told CBS affiliate WJAX-TV. “I was told I was a witness and I’m not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats.”
Questions remain as to why Bryan was there and why he began recording. “My client was responding to what he saw, which was someone in the community he didn’t know being followed by a vehicle he recognized,” said Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, who would not allow Bryan to answer why he started recording, citing the pending investigation. “Without going into details about the level of crime in this community in this subdivision, I think most people in this subdivision were aware that there were issues.”
The initial police report mentions Bryan, alleging that he tried to block Arbery during the pursuit. Refinery29 has reached out to the Glynn County Police Department for confirmation on this. “[Bryan] attempted to block him, which was unsuccessful,” the incident report reads.
According to NBC News, Gough asserts that his client was in his yard when he saw Arbery running, followed by a white pickup truck. The report details that Bryan then got into his car and followed the McMichaels because he wanted to get a photo of Arbery. However, it does not detail what he did immediately following capturing the footage, and whether or not he tried to help Arbery after witnessing his shooting.
Although Arbery's case did not see any charges against the McMichaels until video footage was released to the media, Gough contends that his client was simply “a witness to a tragic shooting,” says Gough. He continues that 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” adding that he allowed police to search his phone. Gough also maintains that Bryan was unaware that he was being investigated until it was announced by the GBI. Bryan has not yet been charged in relation to the case.
Arbery's killing has sparked major media attention as a result of Bryan's video. The video was taken on February 23, when Arbery was followed by Greg and Travis McMichael before they shot and killed him. According to the police incident report, Greg McMichael claims that he and his son grabbed their guns and chased Arbery in their truck believing that he was responsible for burglaries in the area. When they confronted him, Greg told the police that Arbery attacked his son, Travis McMichael, who then killed him as the two struggled for Travis’ shotgun.
But, according to CNN, Glynn County commissioner Paul Murphy publicly said that local police were instructed by Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office not to make an arrest. Greg McMichael used to work with the local district attorney as a law enforcement officer and prosecutorial investigator. Two district attorneys have already recused themselves in the case, one of which referred to McMichael's actions as "perfectly legal." Johnson, who denied the allegation that she stopped an arrest, also recused herself from the case, alleging that commissioners were attempting to "make excuses and ignore the problems at the Glynn County Police Department, for which they are ultimately responsible."
No arrests were made until May 7, after Bryan's cell phone footage was leaked the day before. On May 10, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr formally requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the handling of the case. “What I do know is that once the state was asked to participate, it took 48 hours,” said Carr.
Both of the McMichaels are currently in custody at the Glynn County Jail and face murder and aggravated assault charges, the GBI said May 7. It is unclear what Bryan's fate is, though he is currently part of the ongoing investigation.