Arbery Shooting in Georgia and Citizen's Arrest [& similar shootings]

I’m trying to understand this case and make sure that I’ve gotten it right before I join with the pitchfork carrying crowd. Everything online is either filled with vitriol or otherwise biased. Here is the GA law on citizen’s arrest.

Further, the law is clear that if the two men were privileged to make an arrest, and Arbury fought back and tried to grab their guns, it would be an act of self defense for the men to shoot him.

So, what exactly happened here? There was a video that showed him stopping at a construction site for several minutes, a man called 911 and Arbury is seen running out.

My question: What exactly were these two men told that gave them reason to start chasing Arbury? How long after Arbury exited the construction site did the men catch up with him?

Just asking questions, eh?


Basically all the evidence is that by their own declaration they were not privy to having immediately observed any apparent felonious activity that would justify them giving chase and apprehending under the statute. By their own declaration they claimed he “fit the description” of someone they believed to be involved in a since proven nonexistent “series of thefts”, which again does not trigger the citizen arrest statute. The matter of his presence at the construction site was brought up AFTER the whole incident had happened and the investigations were under way and the video evidence from the site shows no felonious activity.

Ah, so they did not claim that they were pursuing him for anything related to the construction site? What justification did they use for believing that he was the guy involved in these “series of thefts”?

Do we really not have a thread on this already?

There’s a Pit thread on attacking armed guys and getting shot, but no Mundane or IMHO thread? I guess I haven’t looked.

UltraVires, from your cited definition, was Arbery’s alleged felony offense committed within both McMichael’s presence or their immediate knowledge? From the facts I have read, I don’t see how the answer is Yes in either instance. Though I guess that can change depending on the definition of “immediate knowledge” of an offense under Georgia case law. I don’t think the McMichaels had it.

Reasonable suspicion is a lower hurdle than probable cause, at least.

And with that, I’ll bow out.

And just to parse the statute, I think it is important to note that it matters not what Arbury did or did not do.

So this first part is for any crime. So if I personally see someone commit any crime, misdemeanor or felony, I can arrest him. I guess the GA courts have probably ruled on “within his immediate knowledge” but it is not clear from that text. If someone tells me that Arbury stole $1 from him last week, does that bring the crime into my “immediate knowledge”?

This doesn’t require presence or knowledge, just “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.” I’m sure the GA courts have ruled on this as well, but if it is like the probable cause standard, it would matter what was within the minds of these two men as well as the evidence they considered, and again, not ultimately what Arbury did.

He looked like a suspicious person and was running through their neighborhood. Seriously. They have not offered anything else to justify the belief he was the guy involved in the supposed series of thefts.

The suspicious person part is most likely because he was black. I doubt they will actually admit that in those words just as much as I doubt you will accept that as a possibility unless they state it that clearly.

ETA: They didn’t witness him do jack shit that would have made a normal (ie: not racist) person think he had done something to justify chasing him.

So that’s the straight dope. They said that he was a suspicious person running through the neighborhood that they believed was involved in a “series of thefts” that later investigation showed that there was no series of thefts? Did they state why they believed he was the person involved and where these thefts supposedly occurred?

That’s the no-bullshit undisputed facts on the ground?

The part I bolded above is not what I said so I can’t speak to that. They claimed there was a series of thefts. I have not seen any thing to support or deny that. They gave no reason to pursue him other than he looked suspicious to them and was running. Considering he was in what I would call normal running attire I can only assume his suspicious appearance was related to him being a black man running. I don’t expect you to agree with that but I’m open to being surprised.

Why have you twice now attacked me personally and claimed that I would never agree that they did this because he was black? I said that I am trying to make sense of this. I agree with you that if it is true that they only chased him because “he looked suspicious to them and was running” then I would agree with you.

Sorry if you feel attacked because that wasn’t my intent. What do you think could have possibly made him look suspicious to them? From all the information available it is clear they did not witness anything remotely like criminal activity as most reasonable people understand such activity. So, why did these two men think he looked suspicious? Is running in and of its self reason to think a person is behaving suspiciously? Particularly a person dressed in what most reasonable people would recognize as attire typical to people out for a run in public?

Here is an article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution detailing events in the weeks leading up to this.

They saw a black man running, and thought they’d put a little scare into him for shits and giggles. By chasing him down while armed. Most likely because they are racist assholes.

It turned out badly for them.

That’s all there is too it. The rest of it is just pathetic excuses for their criminal behaviour by the usual suspects.

It probably is relevant whether or not the person who told you that is correct, does it not?

It doesn’t sound like this is a law that lets you just kinda round up suspects, but rather to apprehend people who you are double-dog sure did the thing. It seems that that’s what “committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge” is meant to convey. It doesn’t state: “A private person may arrest an offender if someone tells that person that someone else committed a crime.”

If I tell you that Joe committed murder, does this law allow you to make a citizen’s arrest of Joe?

Wow…do you really see no problem with this?

Let’s say you were walking through your neighborhood, minding your own business, enjoying the nice spring weather.

Two guys show up, point a gun at you and claim they are making a citizen’s arrest.

Do you just go with them because, somehow, you think someone claiming they are making a “citizen’s arrest” gives them magical legal rights to detain you?

Or, do you think the more likely thing is these two are up to no good, hope to get you quietly in their truck where they can drive you somewhere and finish you off there?

If you resist do they now have a right to shoot you because they “said” citizen’s arrest? Resisting makes sense in this case. Women are told that during a rape attempt under no circumstances should they go quietly with the person assaulting them. Why would this be different? Don’t go quietly with the people assaulting you and no, saying “citizen’s arrest” doesn’t change a thing.

Cuz if so then those are magic words. Pull a gun, yell citizen’s arrest and then if the person does anything other than lie on the ground and capitulate you have cause to shoot them.

I really wonder how you think things like this are ok.

If actual police stop you, in uniform and working, then yeah…you need to go quietly.

Thanks. I clearly misread the statute, putting an ‘And’ in mentally, when really it’s two separate clauses. Ignorance fought, and it’s a lot cheaper to make this sort of mistake here. I’ll try to atone by mentioning that Johnson v. Jackson, 230 S.E.2d 756, (Ga. Ct. App. 1976). looks to be on point for the issue of performing a citizen’s arrest on a suspected felon. It’s probably been distinguished on that issue since 1976, but it’s a place to start.

The other threads on this subject didn’t answer those questions to your satisfaction?

Turned out worse for Arbury

Indeed, and even if these two schmucks spend lengthy time in prison (which is by no means a certainty), they’ll be considered heroes to a small but vocal subset of the American population.


No one was hurt but the mindset is similar (this happened either yesterday or today…since what happened in the OP):