London Best was pinned to the ground, tased and arrested by Athens-Clarke County police officers after a night out with friends on Sept. 30. Best spent a night in jail and was released on bond the next morning, but he said he believed the officers used excessive force. Best also said he still does not know why he was arrested.
Best was charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct. His bond was set at $2,400 and he was released at 4:27 p.m. on Sept. 30.
The incident captured on video involved Best, a 20-year-old Black man, and three ACCPD officers. The video posted on Twitter has over 126,000 views as of press time.
Best, an Athens resident and bouncer at 1785 Bar & Grill, got into a verbal altercation with a white man, identified as a Centro Bar employee, outside of 1785 and Centro Bar around midnight Sept. 30, according to Best and an ACCPD field case report. The officers were dispatched to scene twice, once during the verbal argument and once again later in the night.
The altercation with the Centro employee never turned physical, Best said in an interview with The Red & Black, but “the commotion” started after the Centro employee threatened to shoot Best and his two other roommates, according to Best, his friends and the field case report.
Best’s roommates, Jordan Cox and Marcel Parks, confirmed the series of events during the field case to The Red & Black.
The following events were also confirmed by the ACCPD field case report filed by officer Enrique Rivera. The report said the unit was dispatched to Centro Bar in “reference to [a] Black male wearing a black hoodie with the word Nike displayed on the front.”
Best said he and his friends eventually walked away from the verbal altercation with the Centro employee and waited for an Uber to pick them up outside the bar when the police arrived.
The report said Rivera smelled a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” on Best. The officer asked Best if he wanted to press charges on the Centro employee, but Best declined, according to the report.
The report said Best became “agitated” when one of the Centro employees walked out.
“We were able to calm down London as we told the Centro employee to leave,” Rivera said in the report.
Rivera told Best he was free to enter the 1785 Bar, but a few hours later, the employees at Centro Bar called the police in reference to Best, according to the report.
After the officer left, Best said he re-entered 1785 Bar and left once the bar closed. Best and his roommates were waiting outside for his Uber when another officer arrived.
According to the report, employees at Centro bar called ACCPD in reference to London, and officers Rivera, Bailey and Marsden were dispatched to the area in front of 1785 and Centro again.
The officers spoke to Best again, when a Centro employee exited Centro Bar and told Best, “Hey how’s it going?” Best replied, “Shut the f--- up pu--y,” to the Centro employee, according to the report.
Rivera reported he told Best if he “cursed one more time he would be placing him under arrest for public drunk or disorderly conduct.”
“I asked London why he came back to Centro Bar, and he stated that he was waiting for an Uber, and I asked him why would you wait in front of a location you just had an altercation at,” Rivera said in the report.
Best said he told officers he was off of Centro’s property, took a few steps back and was waiting to be picked up. Best also said he “remained respectful and never yelled” at the officers throughout the field case.
In the report, Rivera said there were other locations Best “could have waited for an Uber to avoid any more confrontation.”
According to the report, Marsden provided Best with a barring notice, and Best was advised not to come back to Centro Bar for two years. Rivera claimed Best was asked to leave, which he refused at first, according to the report.
Best said he asked the officer multiple times to explain what was being charged and why he was signing the ban, but the officer was being “difficult,” Best said.
Rivera said Best continued to mumble curse words and was asked multiple times to walk away, according to the report. Rivera said Best continued to curse, and Rivera then attempted to place Best under arrest for disorderly conduct, according to the report.
Rivera grabbed Best’s left hand and attempted to place him in handcuffs, according to the report.
The report said Best pulled away, and Rivera attempted to grab and pin him to a vehicle. Rivera grabbed Best’s upper body and “swept him to the ground,” according to the report.
“I don’t know what happened but something just ticked him [the officer at the scene] off and he just charged at me,” Best said. “He throws me into this car — and it has a dent in it now — and then he grabs my arm, twists and throws me to the ground.”
While on the ground, Best said he was not resisting arrest and had his hands behind his back when an officer yelled out “taser” and he felt a shock run through his body. He said he could still feel the pain from the shock in his back a day later.
“As I was controlling London’s upper body, I had control of one of his arms, I could not see or feel if he was not giving officers his other arm, I then heard taser, taser, taser and felt a small electric shock that indicated London was tased,” Rivera said in the report.
At this point, Cox started recording the field case and posted it to his Twitter feed later Sept. 30.
In the video, an officer is heard saying “Sir, stop fighting. I’ll tase you.” Best is seen on the ground with his hands behind his back and two officers on top of him.
Best is then seen being tased as officers say, “Give me your arm.” Best is heard responding, “You got my arm, you got my arm.”
Bystanders gathered around Best in the video, and one is heard shouting, “This is why we don’t have no faith in y’all.”
While still on the ground, Best said “What did I do to y’all?” in the video.
“When they had me on the ground, I thought they were going to shoot me,” Best said. “I had no idea what was going on.”
Best was taken to the police department to have emergency medical services check him physically before he was transported to the county jail, according to the report.
Several members of the Athens community have shown concern and made efforts to take action after viewing the video of the field case. ACC District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker asked Cox to privately message her on Twitter.
Mokah Jasmine Johnson, the Democratic candidate for state House District 117, replied to Cox’s tweet and asked for more details in order to submit a discrimination complaint in order to find answers regarding the field case, Johnson’s tweet said.
Rivera said there was “Axon footage” in the report. The Red & Black requested the case report and body camera footage of the field case but was told this may not be provided until the case was closed.
Cox said he started recording to “give London some peace of mind” and have evidence of what occurred. Cox was hesitant to post the video out of fear of backlash, but he said he felt the field case needed to be revealed and seen.
Best said he was not resisting arrest with two officers over him and was not in a position where he could have physically resisted. Best also said the officers did not read him his Miranda rights until he arrived at the ACC jail later that night.
Marcel Parks, one of Best’s roommates, was at the scene of the field case and said he believes the officers “100%” used excessive force on Best.
“I mean, we've all seen police brutality and injustice, but when it happens firsthand, and especially to one of your best friends, you know, this is different, so we're all in shock. It's sad to see,” Parks said.
Since reflecting on Tuesday night’s events, Parks said he believes the situation was handled “unprofessionally” and was racially motivated.
Best said he was respectful to the officers and asked for an explanation as to why he was arrested and held to the ground.
“I still feel pain down my back from when they tased me,” Best said. “The police brutality was definitely there because I did not need to be handled like that at all.”