Ahmaud Arbery Shooting: Why William 'Roddie' Bryan Was Charged With Murder, According to State Police

William "Roddie" Bryan was arrested Thursday.
William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. was arrested Thursday.Georgia Bureau of Investigation

William "Roddie" Bryan had claimed he was only a witness to Arbery's killing. "If we believed he was a witness, we wouldn't have arrested him," a state official said Friday.

State officials explained Friday why they arrested the man who took graphic video of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery being shot to death while out jogging in a southern Georgia neighborhood. William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. was taken into custody Thursday on felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment charges.

An attorney for the 50-year-old has said Bryan was nothing more than a witness to the killing in his subdivision.

"If we believed he was a witness, we wouldn't have arrested him," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said at a press conference Friday. "I’m not going to speak specifically about what we took from him, but eventually, that will come out in a court of law but, suffice to say, there were a number of pieces of video that helped us get to this point,”

Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, did not respond to a request from InsideEdition.com for comment about his client's arrest.

In an interview last week, Bryan told a local TV station he did nothing wrong. “I’m trying to get my life back to normal, and it’s been smeared for the last week,” Bryan said. “I was told I was a witness and I’m not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats.”

Bryan's arrest warrant states he tried "to confine and detain Arbery without legal authority by utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions" before Arbery was shot, Reynolds said. According to the warrant, "the accused did cause the death of another, Ahmaud Arbery, during the commission of a felony." 

Reynolds was joined Friday by Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes, who made her first public comments about the case since becoming the fourth prosecutor assigned to Arbery's Feb. 23 killing.

"We are going to make sure that we find justice in this case. We know that we have a broken family and a broken community down in Brunswick," Holmes said.

Arbery's relatives have been calling for Bryan's arrest for weeks. 

"We called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process," family attorneys Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and Chris Stewart said in a statement. "His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us, to many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well."

The criminal investigation is nearing an end and no additional arrests are anticipated, Holmes said. A separate review into possible prosecutorial misconduct is also wrapping up, according to Reynolds and Holmes.

Two months passed before the arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael on murder and aggravated assault charges. They followed by days the emergence of Bryan's video on social media, released by an attorney, which prompted a national outcry.

Gregory McMichael, 64, told police he believed Arbery was responsible for a series of alleged break-ins in the area, and he and his son, Travis, 34, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pick-up truck. Bryan lived in the same neighborhood, and shot the video as he followed Arbery.

After shouting at the man to stop, the elder McMichael told investigators, Arbery attacked Travis and the two struggled over the shotgun. Travis shot the man, his father said. 

Arbery, according to an autopsy report, suffered three shotgun wounds. He died in the street, Glynn County Police said.

Attorneys for the elder McMichael said in a statement last week that their client "did not commit murder," saying he's been charged as party to the crime. The attorneys, Frank and Laura Hogue, said they are aware of "several other critically important facts" that portray "a very different narrative" for the killing.

Two former prosecutors ultimately recused themselves from the case, citing conflict of interest, because Gregory McMichael, a former cop, had been a longtime investigator in the district attorney's office.

Bryan and the McMichaels are being held without bail at the Glynn County Jail.