Video shows cops taser Ahmaud Arbery for sitting alone in park in 2017: 'You’re bothering me for nothing'
A patrolling Glynn County cop suspected Arbery of using marijuana after he was found in a park sitting alone in his car
Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was shot to death by a white father-son duo in February, had a run-in with law enforcement years before his tragic death. Newly released footage from the November 2017 incident -- published by The Guardian on Monday -- shows a patrolling Glynn County cop suspecting Arbery of using marijuana after he is found in a park sitting alone in his car. The officer told him the park was notorious for drug activity. A shirtless Arbery is seen wearing a green hat, winter coat and athletic pants. He denies having any drugs on him and tells police he was just relaxing by rapping in the park on his day off from work. “You’re bothering me for nothing,” Arbery is heard saying in the video, before refusing to let the cop search his vehicle.
Michael Kanago, the police officer, then tells him he was looking for criminal activity. “Criminal activity? I’m in a f–ing park. I work," Arbery says in response.
David Haney, another officer, shows up at the scene a couple of minutes later. He orders Arbery to get his hands out of his pockets and then attempts to zap him with his Taser. However, the taser appears to have malfunctioned, according to a police report of the incident. “I get one day off a week… I’m up early in the morning trying to chill," Arbery tells the cops while complying with their commands. “I’m just so aggravated because I work hard, six days a week," he adds.
Arbery is eventually let go by the officers, but is not allowed to drive his car because his license is suspended. Officer Kanago wrote in his report of the incident that he felt threatened by Arbery and hence requested back-up, as described by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Veins were popping from [Arbery’s] chest, which made me feel that he was becoming enraged and may turn physically violent towards me,” he wrote.
The police department is currently facing scrutiny over Arbery's February 23 death which saw him chased and confronted by former police detective Gregory McMichael and his son Travis and shot dead. The video of the shooting was leaked online, sparking nationwide outrage over why police didn't arrest the father-son duo until this month. The case saw two local prosecutors recuse themselves because of their reported ties to Gregory McMichael, who formerly served as a Glynn County cop and later an investigator for the district attorney's office. Nonetheless, lawyers for Arbery's family have now commented on the 2017 incident, saying it cleared showed how "Ahmaud was harassed by Glynn county police officers.”
The lawyers said there was "no justifiable reason" for Arbery to be threatened with a Taser. “This appears to be just a glimpse into the kind of scrutiny Ahmaud Arbery faced not only by this police department, but ultimately regular citizens like the McMichaels and their posse, pretending to be police officers," they said. Four years prior to the park incident, Arbery was reportedly placed on probation for carrying a gun to a high school basketball game. In 2018, he was charged with shoplifting and violating his probation, according to AJC. However, his attorneys have argued those charges have nothing to do with his killing.