New bodycam video shows 2017 Arbery arrest ... for shoplifting

And … so? The New York Post reports on another video from 2017 that featured another law-enforcement contact with the now-deceased Ahmaud Arbery, this time for allegedly attempting to shoplift a television. It comes from roughly the same period of time in which Arbery got detained for a minor drug possession charge, video of which emerged on Monday, as Jazz wrote yesterday. Once again, we see Arbery exhibit a lack of enthusiastic cooperation with local law enforcement, and once again it’s a complete non-sequitur to the incident in which two private citizens shot him to death:

Newly released police bodycam video shows Georgia slay victim Ahmaud Arbery being handcuffed and arrested for shoplifting in 2017.

The video, dated Dec. 1, 2017, shows Arbery and three teenagers being confronted by police in the parking lot of a Walmart shopping center, according to the footage posted on YouTube on Tuesday. …

Gregory McMichael, 64, a former Glynn County cop and investigator for the district attorney’s office, and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, were charged with murder earlier this month after cellphone video of his death went public and caused widespread outrage.

The McMichaels claimed they believed Arbery was a suspected burglar after he was spotted at a nearby construction site — which has since become a morbid tourist stop.

An extended version of the video released by a lawyer for Arbery’s family shows he was chased for more than 4 minutes before Travis McMichael confronted him and shot him twice at close range with a shotgun during a scuffle.

It does show, however, that people really want to dig into Arbery’s background for some reason. My reaction to this is similar to Jonathan Adler’s, with one caveat:

The caveat is that police weren’t the ones involved in the shooting. The point of releasing these bodycam videos appears to be more that Arbery’s somewhat minor criminal background authorized an open season on him by private citizens. Arbery clearly wasn’t a saint, but he’s clearly not much of a criminal, either, or at least not a very successful one. Neither of these videos show him posing any sort of threat to anyone, other than being a sullen teenager.

That’s what makes these video releases more of a counter-indication to the use of deadly force. In both cases, professional law enforcement quickly and easily ended the minimal threat Arbery allegedly posed to public peace. The victim in this particular video called the cops rather than try a “citizen’s arrest,” and no one had to die from the encounter. Neither incident required the use of deadly force, and Arbery never threatened anyone with more than whining and wheedling.

Even if the McMichaels are to be believed, Arbery was at worst perhaps committing another property crime. That doesn’t require deadly force or acute intervention to save one’s own life or someone else’s under any definition of self-defense. Had the McMichaels called the police — like the shopowner in this video — instead of trying to be junior G-men and conducting a four-minute chase to attempt to capture him, Arbery would still be alive and the McMichaels would not face a life sentence for murder.

Clearly, though, someone’s pushing out body-cam videos in an attempt to muddle up the real issues in this case by painting Arbery in the worst possible light. Arbery may not have been a particularly law-abiding citizen in 2017, but that is no justification for shooting an unarmed Arbery on suspicion of prowling in 2020.