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2017 video shows Georgia officer tried to tase Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery
An image of Ahmaud Arbery on a protective mask.
(Associated Press)

A video released Monday shows police in Georgia attempting to search Ahmaud Arbery’s parked car in 2017, and when he refuses and attempts to walk back to the vehicle an officer tries to tase him.

The video, first obtained by the Guardian, shows Arbery refusing Glynn County police when they ask to search his Toyota, and as he walks toward his vehicle he is told “don’t reach the car” and “keep your hands out your pockets.” The officer then pulls out a taser and attempts to use it but it malfunctions, and Arbery is told to get down on the ground, which he does.

When Arbery questions why the officers are bothering him, he is told that the area is known for drugs, a suggestion that agitates Arbery, who says he is not on drugs. Officers then proceed to check him for weapons while clarifying the action is not a search but a check.

In a police report, also obtained by the Guardian, officers said Arbery, who was parked when confronted by officers, was free to go but could not take his vehicle because his license was suspended. The report said that after he left the scene they noticed Arbery’s passenger side window was open and that they smelled what they believed to be marijuana and noticed a bag with a leafy substance inside.

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Calls and emails to the Glynn County Police Department and Abery’s family attorney Benjamin Crump have not been returned.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23 after a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves and gave chase after seeing the 25-year-old black man running in their subdivision. More than two months passed before Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were jailed on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.

Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael were jailed on charges of murder and aggravated assault.
(Glynn County, Ga., Detention Center)

A judge from outside the coastal Georgia community where Arbery was fatally shot has been appointed to preside over trial proceedings of the two men charged with Arbery’s murder, including one defendant with close ties to law enforcement.

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Court documents filed in Glynn County show that Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley was appointed to the case after all five judges in the legal circuit where Arbery was killed recused themselves. Walmsley is based in Savannah, about 70 miles north of where the slaying occurred just outside the port city of Brunswick.

Gregory McMichael, a retired investigator for the local district attorney, told police he thought Arbery was a burglar. He said Arbery attacked his son before he was shot.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, has said she believes her son was merely out jogging.

The delay in criminal charges and a cellphone video of the shooting leaked shortly before the May 7 arrests fueled national outrage over Arbery’s death.

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Last week, defense attorneys for the McMichaels cautioned against rushing to judgment. They said they soon plan to seek a preliminary hearing from a magistrate judge in Glynn County at which new details might be revealed. They also plan to ask that the McMichaels be released from jail on bond pending trial. That decision will now fall to Walmsley.

For many Americans, Arbery’s killing harks back to the old Jim Crow days when white mobs hunted black men down and killed them with impunity. In Brunswick, the shooting has sparked an uneasy conversation about race and power.

No court hearings had been scheduled as of Monday afternoon.

Gregory McMichael worked as an investigator for the local district attorney for more than two decades before he retired last year. Attorneys for Arbery’s family and others have blamed the delay in arrests in part on the elder McMichael’s ties to local law enforcement. The McMichaels weren’t charged until after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was brought into the case in early May.

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Meanwhile, three district attorneys have passed on prosecuting the case, which now resides with the district attorney of Cobb County in metro Atlanta.


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