Nearly one year after Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and killed, the governor of Georgia is calling for the state’s citizen’s arrest law to be repealed.
According to News 4 Jax, on Tuesday (Feb. 16), Governor Brian Kemp asked the Georgia Legislature to get rid of the law that was initially cited as a reason to not hold Arbery’s killers accountable. The governor said that the “horrific killing” impacted communities across the state. “Ahmaud was a victim of vigilante-style of violence that has no place in Georgia,” Kemp said. “And some tried to justify the actions of his killers by claiming they had the protection of an antiquated law that is ripe for abuse.”
According to Georgia Code Title 17, “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.”
Gov. Kemp believes there are “dangerous” loopholes in the legislation and should be reformed. “Like the anti-hate crimes legislation, reforming the citizen’s arrest statute is first and foremost about who we are as a state,” he said. The governor plans to work with civil rights advocacy groups and law enforcement agencies to ensure the bill is passed.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery was fatally shot while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood. Gregory and Travis McMichael took their weapons and jumped into their truck to follow the Black jogger, after believing he was a suspect in a string of robberies that allegedly took place in the area. Soon after, there was a struggle over the firearm and he was shot and killed. A third man, William Bryan, recorded the incident and authorities believe he used his pickup truck to try to trap Arbery. They also say he struck him with the vehicle to stop him from fleeing.
The three men were charged with nine counts each — four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, malice murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. They are currently behind bars awaiting trial and their most recent bond attempts were denied.