Two men who shot and killed an unarmed black man out jogging in Georgia claimed they did so in accordance with Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law.
A father and son were arrested and charged with murder of Ahmaud Arbery, nearly two months after the Feb 23rd fatal shooting and only after the gruesome footage of the cowardly act was widely shared and followed by protests before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) announced Thursday night the arrest of father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael on May 7th.
However, The McMichaels will be relying on a particular controversial law even though the scenario and event that we know so far leading to the shooting do not bear any resemblance to the interpretation of the law. The law in question Is the “Arrest by private persons or citizen’s arrest law”
The ground for arrest according to the 2010 Georgia code is in quote “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”
The application of this law is very subjective, so far, two district attorney have recused themselves from the case, with one of them, Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill stepping down from the case following the mother of the slain man raising an objection after Barnhill exonerated the McMichael’s as he believed they correctly applied the law, while Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case almost immediately because Gregory McMichael had previously worked in her office as an investigator.
Two DAs recusing themselves with one of them expressing an opinion in a letter recusing himself in support of the attackers is a terrifying sign and a question mark on the subjectivity of the law. If there was no objection to Barnhill handling this case, this would not have proceeded to arrest and murder charges.
Although the 2004 Viral Patel vs State and 2017 Edwards vs State, where Viral Patel shot at an intruder into his convenience shop and Edward attacked a suspected burglar with a baseball bat, the court ruled on both occasions that the force applied were not reasonable and could not be a legitimate citizen’s arrest.