William “Roddie” Bryan, the man who filmed Ahmaud Arbery being shot and killed last year, is again petitioning a judge to set bond in his case. In a recent court filing, his attorneys alluded to America’s “racially charged” political climate and questioned whether a white man accused of a violent crime against a Black person “can still receive a fair trial” in Georgia.
Bryan is one of the three men charged with murder in connection with Arbery’s slaying. He’s been held without bond inside a Glynn County, Georgia, jail since late last May as he awaits trial.
Bryan has sought a bond hearing on two previous occasions. Both times he’s been denied those hearings.
In October, he argued through his defense attorney Kevin Gough that police officers in other high-profile cases, such as the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings, were granted bonds. Last month, Gough cited Bryan’s “uncontrolled high blood pressure” in a second bond request.
Yet in his latest filing, the attorney seemed to use guilt to pressure a judge into reconsidering Bryan’s pleas for a bond hearing.
“The eyes of a weary nation are on Georgia and its criminal justice system, wondering whether in this racially charged atmosphere and political climate, a white person accused of a crime of violence against a Black person can still receive a fair trial in the Georgia courts,” Gough wrote in the Jan. 12 motion. “The inability of Mr. Bryan even to obtain a hearing on his second motion for bond does little to encourage Mr. Bryan or his family and friends — or the community at-large — that the Georgia courts are up to the challenge. But time will tell.”
Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery, 25, as the two struggled over a shotgun Feb. 23. He and his father stalked Arbery in a pickup truck when they spotted him jogging through their mostly white subdivision on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia. The father-son duo told authorities Arbery fit the description of a suspected burglar and claimed they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest.
Bryan, one of the McMichaels’ neighbors, trailed Arbery in a second vehicle and recorded the shooting on his cell phone.
No charges were filed until after the video was leaked May 5 and quickly went viral on social media.
Travis and George McMichael were arrested two days later and Bryan was taken into custody May 21. All three white men now face felony murder charges and are being held without bond as they await trial.
All three men pleaded not guilty in July and were denied bail. Gough said prosecutors “stretched the truth to the breaking point” during that hearing by claiming Bryan had “no substantial ties to the community.” He insisted that Bryan was born and raised in Glynn County and has lived there virtually his entire life.
Gough doubled down on his claim that Bryan deserves bail because of precedents set in other notable cases, most of them outside the state of Georgia.
“The defendants remain the only individuals to be denied bond in any of these high profile, racially charged cases,” the bond request stated. “As someone unarmed, clearly at a considerable distance from Ahmaud Arbery at the time of his death, and without any history of violence or any other felony, Roddie Bryan is indisputably the least culpable person charged in any of these cases.”
Gough went on to described his client’s difficulties in jail. He claimed medical staff at the Glynn County Detention Center, for unknown reasons, failed to check Bryan’s blood pressure for 10 days. The motion indicated jail docs have been unable to regulate Bryan’s high blood pressure, and have prescribed him a sedative to reduce his anxieties.
Bryan continues to claim he had little to do with Arbery’s shooting, characterizing himself as nothing more than a witness who filmed the fatal encounter.
But police bodycam footage from the scene just minutes after Arbery was killed contradicts that claim.
Bryan told an officer he hated “that people were getting broken into out here,” and hollered out to the McMichaels as Arbery ran down the road, asking “Y’all got him?”
He told the officer the father-son duo chased Arbery toward the end of the cul-de-sac along Satilla Drive.
“They got down to the end down there somewhere, must’ve passed him, because I pulled out of my driveway, was going to try to block him,” Bryan said. “But he was going all around. I made a few moves at him, you know. And he didn’t stop.”
Bryan’s arrest warrant indicates he used his truck to “confine and detain” Arbery without legal authority.
“As they say, no good deed goes unpunished,” Gough argued in the bond motion, contending that without Bryan, “many details with respect to the tragic shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery would have been lost forever. Instead of acknowledging that Mr. Bryan did the right thing on that day in question…the State of Georgia continues with each passing day that he is denied bond to inflict further injustice upon him.”