Georgia police confronted Ahmaud Arbery in 2017 and tried to tase him, but the weapon apparently malfunctioned, newly released video shows. Arbery, who was sitting alone in a parked car, was suspected of marijuana use and was in an area known for drugs, according to a copy of the Glynn County Police Department report obtained by Britain's The Guardian.
The video, according to attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Arbery's family, shows the young black man "was harassed by officers" in the area, he said Tuesday.
"Ahmaud was stopped in a park minding his own business one day,” Merritt said. “He was committing no crime, but for whatever reason, whoever is releasing this information, that’s where they want the focus of the media to be. We’re not going to play that game.”
Arbery was shot dead Feb. 23 by two white men while he was jogging in a suburban neighborhood outside the coastal city of Brunswick.
Two months passed before arrests were made in case, which occurred after graphic video of Arbery's shooting death went viral and prompted a national outrage at what some, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Arbery's family called "a lynching."
Body cam video of the 2017 confrontation, also obtained by news outlet under a public records request, appears to show Arbery telling Officer Michael Kanago he was doing nothing wrong.
“You’re bothering me for nothing,” Arbery said to Kanago, according to the footage. After Kanago told him he was looking for criminal activity, Arbery replied “criminal activity? I’m in a f*****g park. I work.”
A second officer, David Haney, arrived minutes later and ordered Arbery to get his hands out of his pockets, which Arbery did.
The officer then deploys his Taser, which does not work, and orders Arbery to the ground. He appears to comply with the request, dropping to his knees. “I get one day off a week. I’m up early in the morning trying to chill,” Arbery told the officers as he sat on the ground. “I’m just so aggravated because I work hard, six days a week."
Arbery refused to allow the officers to search his car, saying he had no drugs and no weapons. Kanago had searched Arbery for weapons before Haney arrived, according to the video.
No citation was issued and Arbery was allowed to leave area on foot without his car because his driver's license had been suspended, the report said.
The Glynn County Police Department declined a request for comment on Tuesday from InsideEdition.com. The Georgia Bureay of Investigation, which is now handling the investigation into Arbery's death, also declined an InsideEdition.com request for comment.
On the day he was killed, Arbery, his family said, was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. George McMichael, 64, told police he believed Arbery was responsible for a series of alleged break-ins in the area, and he and his son, Travis, 34, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pick-up truck.
After shouting at the man to stop, the elder McMichael told investigators, Arbery attacked Travis and the two struggled over the shotgun. Travis shot the man twice, his father said. According to police report filed after the incident, Arbery "bled out" in the street.
Attorneys for the elder McMichael said in a statement Friday that their client "did not commit murder," pointing out that he's been charged as party to the crime. The attorneys, Frank and Laura Hogue, said they are aware of "several other critically important facts" that portray "a very different narrative" for the killing.
Travis McMichael's attorneys made similar comments on Thursday, saying he had "been vilified before his voice could even be heard."
"The truth in this case will exonerate Travis," the statement said.
The case is currently on its fourth prosecutor.
The Georgia Attorney General announced last week that Joyette Holmes of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit would replace special prosecutor Tom Durden.
After the video surfaced, Durden said he would take the case to a grand jury, but coronavirus regulations have closed local courthouses.
Two local district attorneys previously recused themselves, citing conflict of interest concerns because the elder McMichael had worked in their office.