Newly released video evidence in the Feb. 23 shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging in a neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga. is shedding light on the apparent systematic injustice and racial profiling Arbery endured before his death, CNN reports.
Police body-camera footage obtained by The Guardian and published Monday shows that police attempted to use a taser on Arbery in November 2017 after questioning why he was sitting alone in his car in a park one morning.
The officers in the video said they were in the area patrolling for drug activity when they spotted Arbery alone in his car, listening to instrumental rap music, according to The Guardian.
In the 13 minute and 15 second clip, the police ask Arbery to exit his vehicle before they search him for weapons. Arbery is determined to be unarmed, and he begins to ask the officer, Michael Kanago, why he was “hassling” him.
Kanago claimed he began to feel threatened by Arbery and requested help from a second officer.
“You’re bothering me for nothing,” Arbery can be heard telling the officers as he compiled with some of their demands and sat on the ground.
“I get one day off a week…I’m up early in the morning trying to chill…I’m just so aggravated because I work hard, six days a week.”
The second officer, David Haney, arrived on the scene minutes later and “screamed at Arbery to get his hands out of his pockets, which Arbery did.” Following the demand, Haney attempted to tase Arbery, but his taser malfunctioned, according to The Guardian.
Arbery continued to comply with instructions from the two officers to get on the ground, and the intense incident eventually concluded with the police searching the outside of his car, the officers asking one another if they “smell weed,” and then finally allowing Arbery to leave.
In a statement yesterday to CNN, S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart, attorneys for the family of Arbery said, “[The 2017 video] clearly depicts a situation where Ahmaud was harassed by Glynn County police officers.”
“This type of behavior by the department is well-documented,” Merritt, Crump and Stewart concluded. “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.”
Evidence of Racial Profiling
Other evidence released Monday suggests that Arbery was the victim of racial profiling on the day he was killed.
Never-before-seen surveillance footage released by homeowner Larry English shows multiple people trespassing the under-construction property over the course of a few weeks — the same property that Aurbery visited on his run in February, prompting his killers to believe that proved he was the person that matched a description of a local serial-burglar, CNN reports.
English was a neighbor of Gregory McMichaels, the ex-law enforcement officer charged with the killing, and his son Travis, so the McMichaels reportedly had visual access to the unfinished property where they would have seen Arbery enter.
Of the 11 surveillance clips obtained by CNN, some showing older couples, a man and a woman, and even children, only one of the clips taken on February 23 is confirmed to show Arbery on the construction property, reported CNN.
When asked about the new videos, attorney S. Lee Merritt responded to CNN in an email saying, “Mr. English himself has said no criminal activity ever took place there and it is clear that Ahmaud was on the premises in the past along with many other people.”
Advocates ask why Arbery was the only one tracked down by the McMichaels and killed, but answers to questions like this will have to wait until the trial, where an outside judge was appointed on Monday to preside over the trial, The Guardian reports.
About two weeks ago — more than two months after Arbery’s murder — cell phone video publicly surfaced depicting the fatal interaction between Arbery and the two white men who were chasing him from their pick-up truck. The elder man is seen in the video with a handgun, while the younger man is openly wielded a shotgun.
At the end of the four-minute video, “Arbery was shot three times, including twice in the chest,” according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy report obtained by CNN.
The two men in the video were later identified as Gregory and Travis McMichael, who said that their reasoning for the slaying was that Arbery matched the description of someone in a series of recent break-ins.
However, there was not a string of break-ins reported to police in more than seven weeks before Arbery’s murder, Glynn County Police Lt. Cheri Bashlor said, “raising more questions and prompting a call for justice from celebrities, law enforcement, community leaders and civilians,” CNN reports.
Advocates and citizens alike created a social media firestorm with #RunWithAhmaud, and, after 72 days, the McMichael men were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and murder.
Andrea Cipriano is a TCR staff writer.