William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., the man who recorded the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, has been arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. This was announced Thursday night. Two other men, one who did the actual shooting of Arbery, have also been arrested. They are Gregory and Travis MacMichael.
Bryan’s lawyer, Kevin Gough told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “If there was a lynch mob or posse, Mr. Bryan was unaware of it.” That’s a strange thing for a person’s attorney to say, since talk of a “lynch mob or posse” is not exactly good press for his client. Bryan claimed he was being a “good Samaritan” by recording Arbery’s death. Then why did he wait to release the video?
This is but one of a series of questions that have plagued this case and investigation. Among those are discrepancies between various images of Arbery (specifically between the widely published picture of Arbery in a tuxedo and still shots from his arrest in 2017), the arrest of Bryan (as if taking a phone video is akin to a crime of murder), the suppression of various videos depicting Arbery in an unfavorable light, the glossing over by the press of Arbery’s mental health and criminal history, the 911 call made by the shooter (who murders someone in cold blood and then reports it to the police?), and a rush to judgment by the press that seeks to convict the suspects long before any trial.
“He is a liar. If he was a good Samaritan, he would have honked his horn. It’s worth noting that on the video, he doesn’t even flinch. He doesn’t gasp. Shot after shot. He simply takes it all in,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney hired by Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother. Honk his horn? How would that stop a murder? How would that have stopped Arbery, a young man with a history of mental issues, from rushing a man who had a shotgun pointed at him? Flinching and gasping? How is not engaging in those reactions while taking a phone video proof of murder, as the video itself shows Bryan was not close to the altercation at all?
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“Why would you videotape it? Why didn’t he do anything to help?” said Arbery’s mother. With all due respect to a grieving mother who has undergone horrible trauma, if someone comes across the scene of a crime, isn’t calling 911 the proper thing to do? “Help” in what way? He was not armed. What could he possibly have done?
A group of attorneys hired by Arbery’s family said to the media, “His [Bryan’s] 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.”
Obvious? Then why have they spoken up just now? This statement is another in a narrative set up by the media, as in the Richard Jewell case, that seeks a rush to judgment for ideological and presumptuously prosecutorial reasons. From the pictures broadcast by the media of the various players in this tragedy to the media narrative itself, this has ominous parallels to the O.J. Simpson case. It does so primarily in the use of race to inflame the issue.
The facts and evidence in this case are getting lost in the political drumbeat. The inconvenient facets of the case are pushed aside because the questioning of any perception of the story, as promulgated by the press and by Arbery’s partisans, is looked upon as proof of racism. This case can not be about politics or about a racial crusade one way or another. It must be about justice. So far, justice has taken a back seat to racial politics. That is not proper in regard to the defendants, who deserve due process and an untainted jury. It is also not true justice for Ahmaud Arbery.
This piece was written by David Kamioner on May 22, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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