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Ahmaud Arbery: Third man charged over death of black jogger

May 22, 2020
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A motorist who filmed the shooting of an unarmed black man in the US state of Georgia has been charged with murder.

William Bryan Jr was also accused of a criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment on Thursday, said the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was jogging when he was shot dead during a confrontation with a father and son in Brunswick on 23 February.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and son Travis, 34, were charged with murder on 7 May.

In the moments before the fatal confrontation, the McMichaels, who are white, armed themselves with a pistol and shotgun and pursued Mr Arbery in a pickup truck in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood.

Gregory McMichael told police he believed that Mr Arbery resembled the suspect in a series of local break-ins.

Mr Bryan’s 36-second video leaked online on 5 May, generating nationwide outcry that was swiftly followed by murder charges. It was filmed by Mr Bryan from his vehicle while he was driving behind Mr Arbery.

The clip appears to show Mr Arbery running down a tree-lined street as the McMichaels wait ahead for him in their vehicle.

A tussle follows and the younger Mr McMichael appears to fire a gun at point blank range at Mr Arbery, who falls to the street.

The Arbery family welcomed Thursday’s arrest, with their lawyer Lee Merritt saying Mr Bryan’s alleged involvement in the killing “was obvious to us, many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well”.

Mr Bryan is expected to be booked into the Glynn County jail, where the McMichaels are also being kept as they await trial.

How was William Bryan allegedly involved?

A prosecutor said Mr Bryan had been “in hot pursuit” of Mr Arbery.

He is also mentioned in the Glynn County police report of the shooting, in which officers noted that Mr Bryan had unsuccessfully tried to block Mr Arbery’s path.

However, Mr Bryan told a local TV station that he “had nothing to do with it” and was in “complete shock”.

During the interview, he did not answer questions on why he was there or why he started recording, but his lawyer Kevin Gough said: “My client was responding to what he saw, which was someone in the community he didn’t know being followed by a vehicle he recognised.”

Mr Bryan has since taken a voluntary lie detector test which law enforcement had not requested, his lawyer had said in a statement on Monday.

He added that Mr Bryan had been in hiding with his fiancée because of death threats and accused the Arbery family lawyers of instigating them.

“Contrary to speculation, the polygraph examination confirms that on 23 Feb 2020, the day of the shooting, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan did not have any conversation with either Gregory or Travis McMichael prior to the shooting.

“Nor did William ‘Roddie’ Bryan have any conversation with anyone else that day prior to the shooting about criminal activity in the neighbourhood,” said Mr Gough, using Mr Bryan’s nickname.

In a CNN interview, Mr Bryan said he had been praying for the Arbery family and hoped his tape would help bring closure.

“If there wasn’t a tape, then we wouldn’t know what happened,” he said. “I hope that it, in the end, brings justice to the family and peace to the family.”

There are no hate crime laws in Georgia law, but the US Justice Department has said it is examining the case to see if any federal hate crime charges are warranted.

Meanwhile, the FBI said on Thursday it had opened an investigation into the another case of a black American shot dead amid conflicting narratives.

Breonna Taylor was fatally shot eight times on 13 March by police conducting a drug raid in Louisville, Kentucky. Police say they knocked on the door and were met by gunfire from within.

But Ms Taylor’s family say the officers did not knock, wore plainclothes and that Ms Taylor’s partner opened fire because he thought they were burglars. The family also say the narcotics raid was targeting the wrong address.

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