Citizen’s Arrest Laws: Ahmaud Arbery

Blog 21 November 2021: Citizen’s Arrest

This is the text of the Georgia Citizen’s Arrest law that is being used in the defense of the three men who hunted down Ahmaud Arbery and killed him in the street.

“A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”

According to Joseph Margulies, of Cornell University, citizen’s arrest laws date back to before the founding of the country. These laws allowed citizens to detain someone they had seen commit a crime.  The laws were designed for an environment in which there were few police.

The Georgia law, updated since then, was put into effect in 1863 and was designed as a slave catching statute.  Georgia along with other states, primarily in the south, later expanded these laws to cover citizens arresting someone they reasonably suspected of trying to escape from a felony.

This law was only repealed after Ahmaud Arbery was killed.  [1]

The jury will have to decide whether the three men “reasonably suspected” Arbery of committing a felony and trying to escape.    The issue will be whether the predominately white jury thinks that the three white men reasonably believed that Arbery had committed a crime.

Margulies also points out that there is a “stand your ground” law in Georgia which allows the use of deadly force if a person “reasonably believed that they were at risk of serious bodily injury or death.” [2]

NPR Article:

Ira P. Robbins, a law professor at American university who studies these citizen’s arrest laws, wrote: “…a member of the public doesn’t know — and likely cannot understand — the nuances of citizen’s arrest, particularly when it comes to the use of deadly force.” “That’s why it is so dangerous for people to take the law into their own hands.”

In an article in the New York Times, a case in surburban Atlanta is described.  “…Hannah R. Payne, 22, is awaiting trial on murder charges for the shooting death of Kenneth E. Herring, a 62-year-old mechanic who left the scene of a fender bender last May. Ms. Payne, who was not involved in the crash, chased Mr. Herring in her Jeep.”

“Witnesses told police in Clayton County, Ga., that Ms. Payne blocked Mr. Herring’s truck, approached the open driver’s-side window of his vehicle and punched him with her left hand as she pointed a 9-millimeter firearm with her right.”

“A 911 dispatcher told her (Payne) to stand down, but the police said the call recorded Ms. Payne’s demands: “Get out of the car,” she yelled, using a vulgarity. A single shot was fired, and Mr. Herring stepped out of the truck and died.”

Payne was described by her lawyer as an “all-American girl” who “thought she was helping out,” but she is now “facing a long prison term for a killing that shares eerie similarities to the shooting death of Mr. Arbery, who was killed in February after a father and son told the authorities they thought he was the suspect of a rash of recent break-ins in their neighborhood.”

After the refusal of a Wisconsin court to convict Kyle Rittenhouse for taking it on himself to go armed into a situation where he knew he was going to be at risk and put other people at risk, there will be more of these incidents.

People (including women) are bragging on social media about how they will “pop” you if you cross them.  They are proud of this aggressiveness.  Women have adopted this Marjorie Taylor Greene “packing and proud of it” mentality.  One of the neighbors in the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed, testified about usually carrying a gun and running out in the dark in her neighborhood when she thought something was happening.  She even testified that she feared her own husband was going to be shot by the McMichaels one night because the husband was in a vacant house site looking for “intruders.”

These citizen’s arrests laws are dangerous, unconscionable, and completely unnecessary.   

[1] In this article, published by NPR, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery is said to have happened “after a fight broke out in the road…”  A fight did not “break out.”  Three men were pursuing Arbery, cutting him off and positioning themselves so that Arbery was “trapped like a rat” as described by Greg McMichael. 

[2] I do not know if this “stand your ground” law is still in effect.  I think it it.

You Need To Look at Ahmaud Arbery’s Body

Ahmaud Arbery Notes Saturday

Blog 6 November 2021

Body Cam Video, Officer Duggan

Ahmaud Arbery Case

I have still not seen the full body cam footage from Glynn County Officer Duggan in the Ahmaud Arbery case.  The defense objected to even showing the video.  So, just as the defense tried to keep the public from hearing the questioning of the potential jurors in this case, they tried to keep the pubic from seeing the body of Ahmaud Arbery laying in the street after three white men hunted him down mercilessly with trucks and murdered him in the street.

As I said, I have still not found the complete video footage.  This is because most of the media outlets who are live streaming this case, made a decision that “in good taste” they would not show the footage.  So, even though the defense motion to keep the video out of evidence was denied, most of the media made a decision for the rest of us that we couldn’t be allowed to see the video.

In most of the live stream, the camera flips back to the face of officer Duggan or Travis McMichael when the most graphic parts of the body cam video are on. 

So, a public that watches the most graphic films and plays the most horrendously graphic video games, has to be protected from looking at the real violence that men can inflict when fueled by racism, hatred, toxic masculinity, and glorification of militarism and violence.

Just think for a minute about that situation.  The consumption of violence, graphic violence in this culture is endemic, especially among males.  But, when a real violent act occurs, the media just decides for the rest of us that we must be shielded from it, protected from it.

As I said, I have not seen the complete video, but the two glimpses of Mr. Arbery laying on the ground after Officer Duggan rolled him over which are in one censored video are enough to turn your stomach.

This young man laying on his back, arms flung out over his head, one arm nearly severed, his chest covered in blood that is still running out onto the pavement is reminiscent of a 1930s mutilation lynching.  This is why they are fighting so hard to keep people from seeing it.  It looks for all the world like a photograph of a mutilation lynching in the South.

It made my stomach churn and it made me want to cry and it made me angry, really really angry. 

This is not a video game.  This is not an accidental shooting.  This is the result of the intentional behavior of three men.

The defense argued on Friday that these men were doing their “duty.”  Bob Reuben argued that they weren’t out there because it was “fun.”  No, that’s precisely why they were out there.  These are men who enjoyed working themselves into a lather over the theft of some property.  They enjoyed pinpointing a black man and blaming all the thefts and problems on him.  They enjoyed the excitement of hunting down another human being and killing him in the street.

Men keep guns at the ready for a reason, they like hunting down and killing things that are alive.  They enjoy the experience of killing.  There is no other reason for a man to go hunting in this day and age.  Again, just think about that.  These are men who go out of their way to seek a killing experience, whether it’s animals on one day or black people on another.

And men keep guns at the ready because they love the image of themselves as killers.  They love the implied power of a gun, especially a big gun.  Guns take the place of self esteem.  Guns make men feel as if they can exert power over another being any time they wish.

Every person who votes Republican, who votes for a party that uses racism as a way to whip up hatred and votes, who helps prop up this gun culture, who votes to expand gun rights is complicit in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. 

All of you need to look at Ahmaud Arbery’s body. 

Ahmaud Arbery: Opening Statements

9:45 AM

Blog #2

  • Last night, Joy Reid talked with Paul Butler about what happens in case like this when you have only a small number of African Americans on the jury.  Usually, the defendant is acquitted.  They talked about the Zimmerman case.
  • It is a travesty that there is only one black person on this jury.  The judge simply declined to do his duty in rejecting the Defense reasons for eliminating jurors.  Also, the judge allowed overly broad and comprehensive questions such as “Have you in any way supported Black Lives Matter or the Social Justice Movement?”
  • As the prosecutor pointed out, the defense lawyers questioned the black potential jurors in more depth than they did the white jurors.  She held up four pages of notes on the interview of a single black juror. 
  • What the prosecution was demonstrating was that the defense attorneys probed the personal lives and beliefs of the black jurors until they found disqualifying information, i.e., information they could use to disqualify the juror without seeming to discriminate which is against the law.

the buzz of white privilege: ahmaud arbery



On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, a retired police investigator, Greg McMichael, 64, sees a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, jogging down the street past McMichael’s house. As it has been described, McMichael goes on “high alert.”  He calls out to his son Travis McMichael who also lives in the neighborhood, grabs his 357 Magnum and runs to his white pick up truck.  Travis McMichael grabs a 12-gage shotgun and jumps into the driver’s seat. 

Arbery is jogging down the street with no cell phone, no weapon, wearing jogging clothes.

The two men, the McMichaels, later claimed that they were on high alert because they recognized the young man.  They (with amazing rapidity) formed a self-appointed posse to hunt the young man down.

Ahmaud Arbery was a jogger.  He had jogged in the Satilla Shores neighborhood before.  In fact, this was part of the reason the two men (joined by another) pursued him.  The McMichaels claimed that Arbery had been observed on video tape, entering a house in the area which was under construction.

The owner of the house under construction had set up the video equipment and had also viewed the tapes.  Nothing he saw on the tapes alarmed him.  There was a curious white couple who entered the house, a group of white young people who carted off  pieces of wood.  Arbery has also been filmed wandering around the house and leaving without disturbing anything.  The owner didn’t call 911.  He didn’t even notify the authorities.

But, evidently, there was a buzz in the neighborhood about trespassers.  I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar this buzz wasn’t about the white couple, or the white kids who stole from the site.  It was about a young black man daring to act like any number of other people fulfilling their curiosity about the new construction. 

This is the kind of “buzz” that leads to two white men arming themselves in a matter of minutes and hunting down a young black man on the street.  This is the kind of “buzz” that gins up hyper vigilance for men who see themselves as protectors of white privilege.  It makes them feel special, like heros, like warriors.  They love it.

And, they thought they were perfectly justified in arming themselves, jumping into a truck and pursuing another human being, cutting off his escape and murdering him in the street.