|First appearance||"The Target" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"–30–" (episode 5.10)|
|Created by||David Simon|
|Portrayed by||Hassan Johnson|
|Occupation||Prisoner (Former Gang enforcer)|
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 was), eventually becoming the primary soldier in their criminal organization. Wee-Bey was also responsible for more mundane activities including driving and picking up money. Despite his history of violent crime, Wee-Bey is good-natured towards his friends, and has a passion for keeping tropical 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. Wee-Bey has the distinction of being one of the few "street" characters to appear in every season of The Wire, the others being Poot Carr, Proposition Joe, Omar Little and Bubbles.
Wee-Bey is Barksdale's main soldier. When Avon is "cleaning up" any possible trail of evidence leading back to him, Wee-Bey kills a witness who had previously been 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, accomplice and lover Brandon. Their first encounter ends with Wee-Bey being shot in the leg, but he later defends Avon against Omar, shooting him in the shoulder and forcing him to retreat.
Wee-Bey was also linked to the body of a dancer from Orlando's strip club, a Barksdale front company. Although not responsible for her death, he slept with her the evening before and showed little concern after she died from a drug overdose. His callous disposal of her body leads another stripper to give information to the police.
Wee-Bey's eventual downfall comes when he and Little Man kill Orlando, who was working as a police informant. During the killing, Little Man shoots Detective Greggs, who was working 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. Baltimore and Philadelphia police arrest Wee-Bey by activating his car alarm, luring him out of his residence unarmed. Once in custody, and guaranteed a life sentence for his involvement in the shooting of a police officer, Wee-Bey confesses to numerous murders, including several he did not commit (with the aim of protecting other people in the Barksdale Organization); in return he asks for a pit beef sandwich with extra horseradish.
Wee-Bey is imprisoned with Avon, serving life without parole. He keeps artificial fish in his cell and enjoys a relatively easy life under Barksdale's protection. A correctional officer 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 on, after D'Angelo's supposed suicide (his death was in fact orchestrated by Stringer Bell, who felt D'Angelo may turn informer against the Barksdale Organization), Wee-Bey reassures Avon that D'Angelo's death was not his fault.
Wee-Bey appears only briefly, helping Avon approach legendary prisoner Dennis "Cutty" Wise to offer him a position in 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. When Brianna Barksdale cuts off the monthly payments that the Barksdale organization had been making to the Brices, Namond is further pressured into dealing, mainly by his mother De'Londa. Howard "Bunny" Colvin takes a liking to Namond after meeting him in a special program for troubled youth that Colvin helped supervise. Seeing potential in the boy, Colvin approaches Wee-Bey and asks his permission to take Namond into his home. Colvin tells Wee-Bey that the changing face of the drug trade and Namond's capabilities in other areas make him better suited to a life off the streets. Though initially reluctant, Wee Bey agrees that Colvin's offer gives Namond the best chance of escaping the drug trade and making something of himself. Acknowledging that anything would be preferable to a life as a soldier, Wee-Bey orders De'Londa to allow Colvin to assume guardianship of Namond, implicitly threatening her when she appears reluctant to let Namond go.
Wee-Bey is briefly seen during the end-of-season montage conversing amicably with Chris Partlow in the courtyard of the Maryland State prison; they are in a similar situation, both having been primary enforcers for West Baltimore kingpins, and now both serving life sentences for committing (and taking sole responsibility for) murders at the behest of their respective bosses.
Real life origins
Ed Burns investigated several high-end drug traffickers in the 1980s. One of these was a heroin dealer named Thomas H. Taylor, whose partner, Vernon 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 spawned a character of the same name played by actor Chad Coleman.) Wee-Bey is a reference to this hit man and drug trafficker. Collins was arrested in 1987 and sentenced to thirty-five years in prison.