Christ They Never Left Ahmaud Arbery Alone
In February, Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead while simultaneously jogging and being black in Brunswick, Georgia. After three months of prosecutorial fuckery and foot-dragging, the father and son who chased him with a pickup truck and then shot him, Gregory and Travis McMichael, were finally charged with murder earlier this month. The suspects have friends in area law enforcement, the father having recently retired after 24 years in the Glynn County DA's office (and before that worked at the Glynn County PD), and almost didn't face prosecution at all.
Now, The Guardian has obtained video of a 2017 incident in which white cops questioned Arbery for the crime of sitting in a car in a "drug area" (a park) while continuing to still be black, during which one of the cops attempted to tase Arbery for the crime of being angry and not standing still (and also black). The taser failed to work, according to the video and a related police report. After Arbery refused to let the cops search his car, he was allowed to leave.
Here's some of the video, which the Guardian obtained through a public records request. A copy of the full 14-minute body cam video is available on YouTube.
Exclusive: police fail in attempt to tase Ahmaud Arbery during 2017 incident youtu.be
The incident had previously been reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and has no direct connection to Arbery's murder, except of course as evidence of how cops in the area act (like cops everywhere). They never left him alone.
The video shows Glynn County Police Officer Michael Kanago asking Arbery what he was doing sitting in his car in a public park; Arbery says it's his day off from the Blue Beacon car wash, and he was rapping to an instrumental beat track to relax. Kanago takes Arbery's ID to run it, and after a while, Arbery, irritated, asks Kanago "Why are you fucking with me?" pointing out that he wasn't even driving the car.
Kanago, instead of trying to deescalate, goes into You Will Not Take That Tone With Me mode, throwing the question back at Arbery: "Why am I fuckin' with you? You wanna know why I'm fuckin wit' you? Keep your hand out of your pocket!" He then tells Arbery that the park is "known for drug activity," which is cop code for "you are black in a public place."
Arbery is definitely pissed off at that, which is of course very scary, because he unreasonably resented being suspected of criminality. He says he's a working guy who's on his day off, and says Kanago should check with the car wash if he doesn't believe him, only he says it with a lot of cussing, and too angrily for Kanago's taste.
Now, this is where Internet Detectives accuse the Guardian of leaving out a crucial detail, which we think is bullshit, but here you go: At about the 3:05 mark in the full video, Arbery says "Bitch, you hit me with that shit, you gonna be fucked up," which the person who posted the video says is a threat of violence. Or maybe it was "you'd better not arrest me on a false charge or you'll get sued," but only Sovereign Citizens are allowed to object to police harassment.
Kanago doesn't respond to the remarks in the video and also doesn't record the "threat" in his report of the incident, probably because even as Arbery says it, Kanago is on the radio, calling for a backup unit. In the report, Kanago does say he feared the angry black man was about to turn into the Hulk:
He raised his voice and approached me; I observed veins popping from his chest which made me feel that he was becoming enraged and may turn physically violent toward me.
The report is full of stuff like that, starting with Kanago's analysis "as a sworn police officer" that Arbery's simple act of getting out of his car was a threat, because "immediately exiting a vehicle can be associated with running on foot, violent engagement, and intoxication."
After the "threat" that he doesn't appear to have heard, Kanago searches Arbery for weapons, finding nothing and incidentally telling Arbery he has no warrants. Arbery is still indignant, and Kanago tells him that he's not trying to ruin his day, he's simply looking for "criminal activity." Arbery, who has continued telling Kanago he's a working man, doesn't like being called a criminal for some reason. Why, it's almost as if he resents it, surely an unreasonable reaction from a cop's perspective. "Criminal activity? I'm in a fucking park! I work! The fuck are you talkin' about? I fuckin' work. Check my damn history. Go to my job. Call my job right now!"
Don't be silly, Mr. Arbery. You don't get a pass for being a responsible employed person, so don't go thinking you're one of "the good ones" when you've raised your voice to an officer of the law. Kanago looks through the car's front window, because he's still looking for crime, and Arbery objects to that, too. Clearly suspicious behavior!
Then the second cop, David Haney, arrives, and Kanago tells him he saw a baggie on the car's center console. Haney draws his taser and yells at Arbery to get his hands out of his pockets. Arbery does, and keeps his hands out to his sides; at that point, you can hear the taser charging and Haney tries to tase Arbery.
Only after Haney orders Arbery to get on his knees, and Arbery complies, does Kanago let Haney know that he'd already checked Arbery for weapons. Arbery keeps trying, unsuccessfully, to make clear he belongs in the "good citizen" category, saying yet again, that he likes to rap to "ease my mind," as if that's something normal people do. Kanago continues explaining that Arbery had made him "nervous" because Arbery had "run up on me" and been all "jumpy." Arbery once more tries playing the honest working man card: "I get one day off a week. One day. One day off a week. I'm tryin' to chill on my day off. I'm up early in the morning trying to chill."
Kanago explains his perspective: There's lots of drug and gang activity in the park. Arbery asks, "Is my name tied up in any of that?" Well, no, but he was "acting all crazy," you see.
At that point, Arbery appears to start standing up, sensing this is over, but hesitates and looks to Haney, as if for permission, or at least some assurance he won't be tased or shot. He stays down. "I'm just so aggravated because I work hard, six days a week."
Eventually, Kanago tries again to get permission to search the car, but by now he seems to be calming down too, and lets Arbery know he can say no. Which Arbery does. "So, in the park chillin', that's a crime?" he asks Kanago, who replies that when it's "way back here" it looks suspicious. Good to know! The cops let Arbery leave, but Kanago tells Arbery he can't drive since his license is suspended.
After Arbery walks off, Haney says to Kanago, "Screwed up, didn't he?" and Kanago repeats that Arbery had been "very, very jumpy." The cops sniff at the car's cracked-open window and decide they probably smell weed, or maybe tobacco, because the man's still a suspect. As two more cop cars arrive, Haney and Kanago discuss whether there's adequate reason to tow the car for a search — maybe there's a "leafy substance" and some "seeds and stems" in view. Ultimately they figure it might not hold up. Haney mentions he'd tried to tase Arbery but the taser malfunctioned, and they decide they could have arrested him, and Kanago says, "He was definitely doing a lot more than just chilling on a Tuesday morning."
Crime. They're terribly, terribly worried about crime. And jogging.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.