Ahmaud Arbery, the black Georgia man who was fatally shot in February after being pursued by two white men, had an encounter with police in 2017 in which an officer tried to use a stun gun on him.
Police body-camera footage from that incident shows a Glynn County police officer on patrol questioning Arbery about his sitting alone in his car in a park. Glynn County is on the Georgia coast about midway between Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida.
The video, first reported on by The Guardian, and a police report on the incident were obtained by NBC News through an open records request. NBC News does not know what occurred before the events shown on the video.
“You off work today?” the officer asks.
Arbery responds: “I’m just rapping. Rapping in the park.”
At another point in the video, Arbery asks the officer why he is being questioned.
“Why am I f—ing with you? You wanna know why I’m f—ing with you?” the officer asks, telling Arbery to get his hands out of his pocket.
“I ain’t got s— on me,” Arbery replies. “What the f— you f—ing with me for?”
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The officer tells Arbery that the area is known for drug activity. Arbery, who is wearing a hat, workout pants and a winter coat with no shirt, tells the officer that he is relaxing during his day off from work.
The officer then checks Arbery for weapons and doesn’t find any. Eventually, a second officer arrives, and Arbery tells them they cannot check his car.
As Arbery walks toward the vehicle, the officers tell him not to reach for the car. Arbery backs away, and the second officer yells for Arbery to get his hands out of his pocket and then attempts to use his stun gun, but the device malfunctions.
“Down. Warning, down,” the second officer yells at Arbery who is standing with his arms outstretched and not saying anything. Arbery gets down on his knees.
“I’m trying to ease my mind,” Arbery says. “I rap. … I got one day off a week. One day. I’m trying to chill on my day off. I’m up early in the morning trying to chill.”
The Glynn County Police Department declined Tuesday to comment on the footage and referred questions to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a probe into Arbery’s killing on Feb. 23 in Brunswick, which is in Glynn County.
Officers said in the police report for the 2017 incident that Arbery became “impatient” during the encounter and started to curse. The second officer used his stun gun to protect them from “the possibility of death” or serious bodily harm, the report states.
The first officer wrote in the report that he saw a plastic bag with a “leafy substance inside” in the center console area of Arbery’s vehicle, and that when the officer put his nose near a partially open window he could smell marijuana. The officers allowed Arbery to leave but would not let him drive his car because of a suspended license, according to the police report.
Attorneys representing Arbery’s family told NBC News in a joint statement on Tuesday that the video shows the officers harassing Arbery.
“Mr. Arbery is rightfully upset by what he perceives as being approached for no legitimate reason. The officer acknowledges that he hasn’t done anything wrong,” the statement read. “Ahmaud Arbery maintains his composure, however, even when the second officer to arrive on the scene immediately escalates the situation, pulls out his Taser and attempts to use it on Mr. Arbery for no justifiable reason.”
The attorneys went on to say that the incident in the video shows the kind of scrutiny Arbery faced “not only by this police department, but ultimately regular citizens.”
Arbery, 25, was shot to death on Feb. 23 after being pursued by Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, in their pickup truck. The McMichaels were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.
Arbery’s family said he was out jogging, while the McMichaels said they thought he was a burglar, according to a Glynn County police report. The McMichaels armed themselves because they believed Arbery might have a gun, the police report said.
George McMichael told officers that Arbery “began to violently attack” Travis, who fired after the two “started fighting over the shotgun,” according to the police report.