Arbery, was a man killed by two residents of a subdivision in a South Georgia
community. The focus of this comment is strictly limited to the defendants’
claims that they were trying to make a citizen's arrest of Ahmed Arbery when
Mr. Arbery was killed.
I don't know and for purposes of this comment find it irrelevant whether Mr. Arbery was or wasn't a burglar who had committed felony burglaries in that neighborhood in the past. Further, for purposes of this comment I don't know and don't find it relevant to the subject matter of this comment whether the Defendants are racists looking to get the black guy jogger. My comment is strictly limited to whether a defense claim of citizen's arrest can apply to this situation. As you will see, I think the answer is an emphatic NO !
Georgia Law at the time of this incident, a citizen's arrest applicable to the
facts of this matter was only allowed for felonies committed "in the
presence" of the person making the arrest or committed "within the immediate Knowledge" of the
person making the arrest. In the Arbery
case the Defendants never witnessed Mr. Arbery committing a felony in their
presence. Further while they suspected,
rightly or wrongly, Mr. Arbery of having committed crimes in the neighborhood
in the past, these suspicions just don't qualify as "immediate
Knowledge" as defined in the Georgia statute.
knowledge in the Georgia statute was intended to cover situations such as a woman
walking down the sidewalk when a purse snatcher grabs her purse and she yells
out "Stop that man! He just stole
my purse." and hearing that cry and seeing the robber running away another
person stops them and detains them for the police. Immediate Knowledge means immediately after the point in time
that the felony is committed. It does
not mean knowledge learned from watching a video tape days or weeks after the
events in question occurred. Finally,
the citizen's arrest statute does NOT and Never has authorized a citizen to act
days and weeks after an incident to enable such citizens to pursue a suspect,
detain that suspect, and question that suspect. That is clearly the job of Police.
Yet in the Arbery case the Defendants are trying to argue that since the Defendants believed or had a suspicion that Mr. Arbery may have committed a felony which the Defendants did not witness in their “presence” and of which they did NOT have "immediate Knowledge" that they decided to pursue Mr. Arbery, detain him, and question him. So, while the Defendants may not be guilty of intentional murder of Mr. Arbery, it seems to me they had a legally improper intent which led to Mr. Arbery's death. I just don't see how the Defendants escape a guilty verdict on either involuntary or voluntary manslaughter (Sometimes called 2nd Degree or 3rd Degree murder in some States).