Man who filmed Ahmaud Arbery's killing was shooter's friend, says he's now receiving threats
A father-son duo was arrested by Georgia law enforcement just days after a video appearing to show the shooting of jogger Ahmaud Arbery made rounds of the internet. That said, the individual who filmed the incident is also under investigation and claims he has started receiving threats ever since the probe began.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) revealed on Thursday how former police detective Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were charged with murder and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Arbery.
According to the GBI, District Attorney Tom Durden did not formally request an investigation until after the video was released on May 5 despite the shooting having taken place on February 23. Gregory and Travis were arrested just days after the footage went viral.
Gregory reportedly spent years as an investigator for the district attorney's office before retiring last year.
“Please understand that although there was an investigation conducted by the Glynn County Police Department at the time of the incident over two months ago, the GBI was not a part of that investigation,” the agency said in a statement. “We are conducting an independent investigation and are two days into it.”
The video of the shooting was a key piece of evidence in the case, GBI Director Vic Reynolds noted. He revealed that William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor and a friend of Travis McMichael who filmed the killing, was also under investigation by the agency after calls for his arrest were made by the victim's family.
According to a memo obtained by USA Today, Bruan followed the two men in “hot pursuit of Arbery." And while it is still unclear how he became involved in the chase, Bryan was listed as a "witness" in the initial police report.
The video was later released to the public by criminal defense attorney Alan Tucker in the interest of “absolute transparency," he said.
“We are going to go wherever the evidence takes us,” GBI Director Reynolds said. “In a perfect world, we would have preferred to have been asked to become involved in February, of course.”
It also emerged that Bryan allegedly started receiving threats since authorities began investigating him, his attorney Kevin Gough said in a statement Friday.
“It was Mr. Bryan who videotaped the incident in question, disclosed the existence of the videotape, and invited a responding Glynn County Police Officer to sit with him in his truck where they watched the video together,” Gough said.
But the attorney also said that comments by authorities about Bryan also being investigated in the case have put his life in danger, along with his family, friends, and neighbors. Gough also explained that his client has lost his job despite committing no crime and cooperating with the investigation.
Arbery was shot to death while jogging in Satilla Shores, only two miles from his home in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael told responding officers that he believed Arbery was a burglary suspect after a string of recent burglaries in his neighborhood, and so he and his son pursued him with their firearms. They alleged that Arbery attacked them after Travis exited their vehicle with a shotgun.
It is worth noting that the original police report described McMichael as a “witness” and Arbery as a “suspect," according to a report by Salon.