Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice
is a fictional character
on the HBO
drama The Wire
, played by actor Hassan Johnson
. Wee-Bey was the Barksdale organization's most trusted soldier before being sentenced to life imprisonment for multiple homicides.
Wee-Bey dropped out of school in sixth grade and started dealing drugs on a corner with Avon Barksdale
and Stringer Bell
(both slightly older than he), eventually becoming the primary soldier in their criminal organization. Wee-Bey was also responsible for more mundane activities including driving and picking up money. In contrast to his long list of crimes, Wee-Bey is good-natured towards his friends, and has a passion for keeping pet fish. He has a son, Namond
, by a woman named De'Londa
, though he had no hesitation about sleeping with other women and maintains a separate residence. De'Londa uses his last name although they are not married.
Barksdale's main soldier, Wee-Bey naturally comes in conflict with the police. For instance, he is pulled over by Detectives Hauk
, who seize $20,000 of Barksdale's money from the car. Later, when Avon is eliminating various outstanding evidence of wrongdoing, Wee-Bey kills a witness they had bought off. Wee-Bey gets involved in two different gun fights with legendary stick-up man Omar Little
, after torturing and killing Omar's partner in crime (and love) Brandon
. Their first encounter ends with Wee-Bey shot in the leg, but he later defends Avon against Omar, shooting him in the arm and forcing his retreat.
Wee-Bey was also linked to the body of a dancer from Orlando's strip club, the Barksdales' legitimate business front. He did not kill her, but, after she slept with him at a party, he did nothing to help her as she was dying from a drug overdose. His callous disposal of her body sways another stripper to give information to the police, beginning the collapse of the Barksdale criminal empire.
Wee-Bey's eventual downfall comes when he and Little Man kill Orlando because he was working as a police informant. During the incident, Little Man shoots Detective Greggs, who was undercover. Stringer orders Wee-Bey to kill Little Man, stating that he is unreliable as a soldier, and flee town; D'Angelo Barksdale is responsible for driving Wee-Bey to Philadelphia (and taking care of his fish). When D'Angelo is arrested soon after, he gives the police information concerning Wee-Bey's whereabouts and his murder of Dierdre Kresson, a former girlfriend of Avon's. Later, through a combination of the active wiretap and phone records, the police are able to determine Wee-Bey's exact location and apprehend him in Philadelphia. Once in custody, guaranteed a life sentence for his involvement in the shooting of a police officer, Wee-Bey confesses to numerous murders, including several he probably did not commit (such as William Gant, which "Bird" Hilton was arrested for), to protect other people in the Barksdale Organization. For this action, Wee-Bey obtains a high reputation and respect level in the streets of Baltimore and the Barksdale Organization.
Wee-Bey is imprisoned with Avon, serving life without parole. He continues to keep fish and enjoys an easy life due to Barksdale's protection. A guard named Dwight Tilghman
harasses him because he confessed to murdering a relative of Tilghman's. Wee-Bey complains to Avon, and the problem is swiftly dealt with. Later down the line, after D'Angelo's alleged suicide, (his death was really a setup by Stringer Bell, who felt D'Angelo was out of pocket and getting ready to snitch on the entire Barksdale Organization) Wee-Bey is there to reassure Avon that D'Angelo's death was not his fault.
Wee-Bey appears only briefly, to help Avon approach legendary prisoner Dennis "Cutty" Wise
to offer him a position within their organization. Both Wise and Avon are paroled, leaving Wee-Bey to serve his time without them.
Wee-Bey's teenaged son
becomes involved with the drug trade, getting a job with his old colleague Bodie Broadus
. Namond is also responsible for his fish. Ultimately, he is confronted by the fact that Namond is capable of any career, but participating in the drug world would kill him, and allows his son to move in with Howard Colvin
, on the hope that he can live a good life that Wee-Bey never had the chance to. Wee-Bey orders De'Londa to follow his lead, as his word will reach her wherever she goes.
Wee-Bey is briefly seen conversing with Chris Partlow
in the courtyard of the Maryland State prison during the ending montage, apparently becoming friends, their situations similar, life in prison for committing (and taking the fall for) murders at the behest of their respective bosses.
Real Life Origins
investigated several high end drug traffickers during the 1980s. One of these was a heroin dealer named Thomas H. Taylor, who had a partner called Vernon Collins. Collins was known as Bey-Brother. He was described by one FBI informant as a "narcotics hit man who is feared throughout the narcotics underworld in Baltimore."
Collins is mentioned in David Simon
's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
as one of Baltimore
's notorious contract killers in the late 1970s along with Dennis Wise (who coincidentally enough spawned a character of the same name
played by actor Chad Coleman
.) Wee-Bey is a reference to this infamous killer and drug trafficker. Collins was arrested in 1987 and was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison.