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Ahmaud Arbery case: Man who filmed video of shooting charged with murder

Man who filmed video of Ahmaud Arbery shooting charged with felony murder
WATCH: Man who filmed video of Ahmaud Arbery shooting charged with felony murder. Warning: This video contains disturbing content. Discretion advised. (May 22)

The Georgia man whose cellphone video of Ahmaud Arbery’s fatal shooting helped reignite the case was charged with murder Thursday, making him the third person arrested more than two months after the slaying.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. was arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. No other details were given. The GBI said in a statement that it would hold a news conference Friday morning.

READ MORE: Ahmaud Arbery: Hundreds turn out for rally seeking justice in shooting death

Arbery was slain Feb. 23 when a white father and son armed themselves and pursued him after spotting the 25-year-old black man running in their neighborhood.

More than two months passed before authorities arrested Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. Gregory McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Arbery attacked his son before being shot.

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READ MORE: Video shows Georgia police officer tried to tase Ahmaud Arbery in 2017

Bryan lives in the same subdivision just outside the port city of Brunswick, and the video he took from the cab of his vehicle helped stir a national outcry when it leaked online May 5.

The video quickly drew a strong reaction from Georgia Gov. Bryan Kemp, a Republican who called it “absolutely horrific.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigation soon took over the case from local police, and the arrests of the McMichaels followed on May 7.

Protesters at Georgia rally demand justice in Ahmaud Arbery case
Protesters at Georgia rally demand justice in Ahmaud Arbery case

Under Georgia law, a person can be charged with felony murder for committing any felony that causes the death of someone else. It does not require intent to kill and carries an automatic life sentence.

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In the Glynn County police incident report on the shooting, Gregory McMichael told an officer that at one point Arbery “began running back the direction from which he came and `Roddy’ attempted to block him which was unsuccessful.” It’s the only mention in the police report of any potential involvement by Bryan.

Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, did not immediately return a phone message Thursday. He has previously insisted Bryan played no role in Arbery’s death.

“Roddie Bryan is not now, and has never been, more than a witness to the shooting,” Gough said in a statement on the case Monday. “He is not a vigilante. Roddie did not participate in the horrific killing of this young man. Mr. Bryan has committed no crime, and bears no criminal responsibility in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.”

READ MORE: Lawyers for men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery say ‘don’t rush to judgment’

Meanwhile, attorneys for Arbery’s parents cheered the news of Bryan’s arrest.

“We called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process,” attorneys S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. 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.”

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Bryan’s video of the shooting was taken from the driver’s seat of a vehicle following Arbery as he runs along a residential street. A pickup truck is parked in the road ahead of Arbery, with one man in the truck’s bed and another standing beside the open driver’s side door.

Newly-surfaced video shows Georgia cop trying to tase Ahmaud Arbery during 2017 incident
Newly-surfaced video shows Georgia cop trying to tase Ahmaud Arbery during 2017 incident

The video shows Arbery run around the truck to the right before he cuts back in front of it. Then a gunshot can be heard, followed by a second shot. Arbery can be seen punching a man holding what appears to be a shotgun, who then fires a third shot point-blank. Arbery staggers and falls face down in the street.

READ MORE: First prosecutors assigned to Ahmaud Arbery killing case now under investigation

Gregory McMichael retired last year after more than two decades as an investigator for the local prosecutor’s office. Because of those ties, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case. Two outside prosecutors assigned the case have also stepped aside.

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The McMichaels remain jailed in Glynn County waiting for a preliminary court hearing and for a judge to decide whether to free them on bond pending trial. Attorneys for the father and son have urged people not to rush to judgment in the case.

2 men arrested, charged with felony murder in shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery: police
2 men arrested, charged with felony murder in shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery: police