In the overlapping murder trials in Wisconsin and Georgia in recent days, most of us focused primarily on the Rittenhouse case. We’ve gone over it rather thoroughly here. It’s time to talk about the recent convictions of three men for Murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Many compared the two, and there are certainly comparisons. In each case the defendants appeared to be armed citizens genuinely motivated by the goal of protecting communities from crime. Each involved people killed while trying to disarm, injure, or kill the defendant in a state of rage.
Beyond those elements, however, there were profound differences. This is why, if you’ve followed the discussion threads on the matter in the gun forums, you’ve seen much less sympathy for Travis and Gregory McMichael and Roddy Bryant than you’ve seen for Kyle Rittenhouse.
Perhaps the biggest difference is the initial aggressor element. Video clearly showed that every time the young man from Illinois fired, the person he shot at had come at him first. (A grim joke circulated on the Internet. “Bartender, pour me a Kyle Rittenhouse.” “How do you make that?” “The chaser comes first, and then the shots.”)
For the adult Georgians, the single video of the shooting just as clearly showed that they were the ones pursuing Ahmaud Arbery. That was devastating to the defense, as their convictions showed.
In Kenosha, the whole reason Rittenhouse and others were there to protect property, with guns to protect themselves, was that the police were over-extended and unable to control the situation which was a full-blown riot. Rittenhouse only ran toward the police, who in the din of the chaos didn’t realize he was trying to reach them and put himself safely in their custody. In Satilla Shores, the police were a phone call away, and weren’t called in time by the defendants when they could have been. The defendants in the Arbery shooting could have safely kept their distance, kept Mr. Arbery in line of sight, and kept police informed of his location. That didn’t happen.
In each case, those who were shot were far from angels. In Kenosha, Joseph Rosenbaum was a convicted child molester who had spent years in prison, years in which he reportedly attacked guards multiple times. He had threatened to kill Rittenhouse earlier in the night, and had recently been released from a psych ward after a suicide attempt or threat. Anthony Huber had a documented history of violence. Gaige Grosskreutz was illegally carrying a gun that he was pointing at Rittenhouse at the moment he took a bullet. Ahmaud Arbery was a convicted thief and more than an innocent jogger: see here. In neither case did the juries learn the backgrounds of the men who were shot. The reason for that is crystallized in Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b): prior bad acts by the person who may have forced you to kill him are normally not allowed in your defense if they were not known to you the shooter at the time and therefore were not formative to the decision and action for which you are being judged.
Andrew Branca, always an excellent resource for commentary in these matters, feels that the judge in Georgia did not adequately instruct the jury on a critical element in the case, the law of citizens’ arrest as it stood at the time of the shooting.
I personally didn’t see evidence of “Malice Murder” in this case, but I didn’t see every minute of the trial, either. Given the limited degree of probable cause vis-à-vis reasonable articulable suspicion, if Greg McMichael really did wield a .357 Magnum at Arbery and order him to stop or he would “blow your (expletive deleted) head off,” such action sounds an awful lot like felony Aggravated Assault under the circumstances.
In my first book on use of deadly force by private citizens, “In the Gravest Extreme” in 1980, I included a whole chapter on “The Dangerous Myth of Citizens’ Arrest.” I have long pointed out that a private citizen chasing a criminal is somewhat like a dog chasing a car: it doesn’t know what it’s going to do with it when it catches it, but nature compels it to chase it anyway. The Arbery case appears to be a classic example of that.
Your comments are invited here, as always.
Mas, when discussing the outcome of this trial I’ve pointed out that the defendants should have taken the action of “being a good witness” and notifying local LE. I’m not aware of any circumstances where deadly force was justified here. I concur with your position about citizen arrest. The average person is not trained to do this and also does not have the tools available to LE to effect arrest safely – e.g. radios and backup.
Our carry permit instructor in MN always emphasized the “four easily popped balloons” that were required for a successful self-defense claim in court (in short-hand below):
– Reluctant participant (no initiation of confrontation)
– Immediate danger (of death or grievous bodily injury)
– No lesser force (would have a probability of stopping the attack on you)
– No practical retreat (MN is NOT a stand-your-ground state, except in your home)
The excellent work by Mr. Branca that I followed on Legal Insurrection went through essentially these necessary claims for each and every one of the Kenosha shootings in tremendous detail, noting that they were satisfied in each instance. But they were not satisfied so much for the Arbery case.
MN law also does not allow for use of potentially lethal force in protection of property, with the idea being that property can be replaced, while lives cannot. Particularly for an instance like that of the Arbery case it should be remembered that simply observing, and perhaps photographing, somebody who is looting a building site after having called the police is far, far better than spending the rest of your life in prison.
Good thoughts, Mas. Agree with you on both trials. Arbery did nothing to justify raising the stakes to lethal force levels. The three men, like those dogs chasing cars you mentioned, needed to be called home and put on a leash while the P.D. was called. Thank you.
The Arbery case strikes me as a massive chain of Very Bad Decisions. Everyone involved was making multiple bad decisions:
1) The police knew that theft and trespassing crimes were occurring at the construction site. They had been reported to them multiple times. Because these are low-level property crimes, the police did not expend a huge effort to resolve them. No doubt, they felt that they had bigger fish to fry. This was a bad decision. They should have adopted a “Broken Window” approach and addressed them so as to prevent the situation from escalating. Their failures to address these “property crimes” in a timely manner is what encouraged private citizens to try to take matters into their own hands.
2) Arbery, himself, kept returning to the site although he know his presence was not wanted. This looks suspicious. He made himself a target and criminal suspect. Bad Decision.
3) As you note, Mas, a group of private citizens decided that, if the police would not protect them, they would take matters into their own hands and run Arbery down and make a “Citizen’s Arrest”. These were bad decisions on so many levels.
4) Arbery, again, when chased down became angry and decided he would fight (unarmed) and charge a guy holding a loaded 12 ga. pump shotgun. This is a “Darwin Award” level bad decision. It directly led to his death.
5) I don’t know all the details but, my understanding is that the citizens called a friend in the local Prosecutor’s Office and tried to get the whole matter “swept under the rug” as a self-defense shooting. This backfired once the media got hold of it. In fact, it got their friend into trouble too. See this story:
Another set of bad decisions.
6) With egg on its face now, the Office of the Prosecutor felt that they had to “double down” and really “bear down” to get convictions in the Arbery Case. Which is what they did. It was not “Justice”. It was “saving face” on their part. I also call that a bad decision since they should be in the business of seeking justice rather than CYA (Cover Your A$$) for themselves.
7) Finally, the politically rabid (In)Justice Department of the Biden Administration literally “slobbered at the mouth” over a chance to bring Federal Civil Rights charges in this case. See this link:
So, not content with a conviction on State charges, the accused now face the likelihood of conviction on Federal charges. I also call this a bad decision because there is no evidence that they were motivated by racial hatred. Their motivation was to protect their community and stop crime. They just “Chose Poorly”.
The three people charged in this case will likely never see freedom again. They will spend years, decades, in prison. Meanwhile, true criminals (including murderers) are being released daily, by the insane Left, as part of “Sentencing Reform”.
It was all bad decision after bad decision until it snowballed into a massive mess. Try as I might, I can’t find one single person, involved in this case, who has made a “Good Decision”. One would think that, just by chance alone, that there would be one or two good decisions in this mess but I can’t see a single one.
We train for defense. We try to build skill with our weapons, learn tactics and study ballistics to no end. However, the Arbery Case teaches us that the most important survival skill is the ability to make good decisions under pressure. Our most effective weapon is carried under our scalp and between our ears. Provided it is loaded!
“…Arbery, again, when chased down became angry and decided he would fight (unarmed) and charge a guy holding a loaded 12 ga. pump shotgun. This is a “Darwin Award” level bad decision. It directly led to his death….”
So a black man is being chased down by a trio of armed white guys in pickup trucks in the Deep South and he has no reason to be fearful? Does the name James Byrd Jr. mean anything to readers here? It is possible he fought with the guy holding the shotgun as he thought he was in imminent danger of receiving a few loads of #00 deadly force and thought he had no choice and was fighting for his life? I don’t know and Arbery is dead, so we cannot ask him.
I agree with you that this was a collection of 100% bad decisions but I don’t know whether Arbery thought that running away would result in being shot in the back. He is dead, so we cannot ask. If it was me with my CCP, I might have gotten into a shootout with the men.
I go back to my earlier comment–nothing happened here to justify raising the stakes to a situation where gunfire, or someone fighting over a shotgun, was reasonable or prudent. Like blackwing1 said above, “Reluctant Participant” was not the case; as Mas said, “dog chasing car”.
“…and thought he had no choice and was fighting for his life?”
An unarmed man charging three men, with one armed with a .357 Magnum revolver and another armed with a pump 12 Ga. shotgun, is not the path of wisdom. Are you really arguing that it was a “smart move” on Arbery’s part?
I think that he was enraged at being chased and he thought that, if he could just get a hold of that shotgun, he would have the means to kill them all.
This WAS NOT his only option. He could have left the road and cut across the yards and private property of the homes around him. They had vehicles but it would have been harder to follow him if he had abandoned the streets and cut on foot across country. Sure, maybe he risked a shot to the back but people will hesitate to shoot a running man directly in the back and, even if they shot anyway, they might miss a running target.
Charging the man holding a shotgun, and then trying to grab it, was certain death.
Another option would be to just surrender. Take the chance that they would just hold him for the police instead of murder him. It was a better chance then charging a shotgun.
Sorry, but I stick by my above comment. I know firearms and I know what a shotgun loaded with buckshot will do at close range. I stand by my view that an unarmed man, who charges a man holding a 12 Gauge pump shotgun loaded with buckshot, is a candidate for a “Darwin Award”.
Please don’t misconstrue my views and think that I am defending the guys who chased Arbery down and cornered him. I have already condemned their actions as being wrong on “so many levels”, but, “two wrongs don’t make a right” as they say. Getting mad and deciding to risk everything by charging a man who already “has the drop” on you is a monumental “Bad Decision”.
Arbery should have kept a cool head and either been smarter with his evasion tactics or, else, tried to talk his way out of a bad situation.
I always feel better about my life when Mas weighs in and it matches what I think 😐
In MAG 40, you outlined 5 criteria for pursuit, and possible deadly force use against a fleeing felon. The circumstances of this case do not even come close to the criteria you taught us. No good was going to come of their actions by confronting Aubry, and for nothing more than protecting items that could have been replaced from Home Depot. Everyone has a video camera these days. A video of the thefts, turned over to the police should have been the actions taken.
Your first book’s title “In Gravest Extreme” says it all. This one wasn’t even close.
This case really spotlights what can happen if you choose to intervene in a situation that does not involve the threat of death or grave bodily harm to you or others. I would bet that the three guys wish they had just called 911, taken photos/video, followed at a distance and stayed locked in their vehicles. It also shows the situation some areas of the country are descending into, where the citizens feel that the police and prosecutors will not help when their property and livelihoods are stolen or destroyed. Some sort of reckoning is coming and it likely won’t be pretty.
My CCW class emphasized the concept that you cannot claim self defense when you are the initial aggressor. While the entire affair was, as noted earlier, a series of bad decisions, had the defendants kept their distance, and not produced a weapon, this tragedy would have been avoided.
The “Officer Tatum” has a copy of a video that shows what actually took place. The prosecution edited the video to get the results they wanted. After watching the video and explanation by Officer Tatum, I cannot agree with the decision made.
lotsa errors made that day. that said, it has been well established to me, from both Mas and Andrew Branca, that if an unarmed someone attempts to disarm you, they intend to use your gun against you. you can use the force necessary to retain your gun, including deadly force.
there again, both Mas and Branca always suggest to never go to the fight. now we see why.
If one of the mutual combatants, which this could be interpreted, was to flee he has broken off the fight and regains a mantle of innocence. Unless Aubrey was a clear danger to the community at the time, such as running with weapon in hand after an aggravated assault or murder, he should not have been stopped by civilians. Just being a thief does not qualify as an imminent threat. That is what sealed the case.
Mas, I still have your book, In the Gravest Extreme from 1980. It was the first gun book (in my knowledge) that addressed these many relevant concepts about self-defense and the law. It was a God-send when there was no Internet. Here, 40 some odd years later it is still highly relevant and all CCHs should read it – plus some of your more recent books along the same lines. Those books are and will be your legacy. They will be quoted long after you and I are gone. You should take great satisfaction from that. Thanks.
Arbery had every right to be offended, angry, and had the right to rage back at these Barney Fife wannabes. Whether or not he was trespassing was not their business. Period. Arbery might have felt that charging them was only option as running away and getting shot in back clearly was not good idea either. These men deserve full sentences. Period.
His hot temper got him killed. Set a “Darwin Award” on his grave along with a bunch of flowers.
As near as I can tell, everyone within a hundred miles of this case was making bad decisions. None of them look like candidates to join Mensa IMHO.
What if Arbery had stood still, remained calm, and not made any threats? He could have asked the three to call police. When the police showed up, they would have questioned Arbery. If Arbery was up to no bad, then the police would be satisfied that he is OK, and would have let him go. In other words, if both sides had de-escalated the situation, and let the police handle it, peace would have been made. Instead, because of hot heads, there is one dead man and three in prison for a long time.
All the cases we see on TV have this hot-headed, confrontation mode in common. Suspects are either resisting arrest when they are shot, or, in this case, the suspect resisted two armed citizens. Bad choices lead to bad outcomes.
There is a verse in the book of Proverbs (rhgt next to the book of Psalms) in the bible that says, quoting from memory
“sticking your nose into someone else’s business is like grabbing an angry dog by the ears”.
Now there IS a place for looking out for yur neighbour’s business in some cases.. had the three simply documented the apparent theft, tried to ID the guy or find uit where he lives, etc, to report tht to LE, they’d have avoided the results they got from “grabbing an angry dog by the ears”. AND done their bit to help protet their neighbour’s goods.
I see a strong similarity in the dynamic of both the Rittenhouse and this Aubery trials Seems in both, there was a group of three tho took upon themselves some action against a lone actor. In both cases, the dynamic of the three seems to have fed itself in a compounding set of actions that set each trio up for a VERY bad outcome. Sort of a runaway group dynamic which led to extreme consequences, life changing (or ending) for all six. In each case, it seems the three involved fed each other thus escalating the situation to the point of no return, and extreme permanent consequances. In Rittenhouse, yes, eac individual attacker came at him solo, they neer ganged up as a trio directly. And Kyle took care of business to protect his own life as each solo threat agressed. Two were permanently removed from the aggressor pool, the third severely damaged. In the other case, the three apparently acted in close consert, but making a “group decisioin” to “make him pay” as they tried to contain him. Not their job, as they now know. In conrast,Kyl’e’s job WAS certainly to defend himself.
I note with a certain satisfaction that, apparently in direct result of Kyle’s action,s the rioting all accross this land seems to have largely ended that night. I wonder whether the theft of materials in that neighbourhood has ended since Mr. Aubery’s life was ended. Still, comparing the value of the Home Depot “juk” that was habitually walking away from those jobsites to a life is very uneven. I also recall very well that after the death of a certain young punk in Florida, the housebreakings in George Zimmerman’s neighbourhood suddenly stopped… and that some items known to have been stolen in some of those previous housebreakings had indeed been found in that young criminals possession prior to his demise. So either the culprit was precisely removed from his position of contuing the criminal acts or word somehow spread overnight that “hey.don’t mess there any more, things will not go well with you”.
Hey, watch out here! The “young punk in Florida” you are referring to was described by no less than the great Barack Hussein Obama as someone who could be his son. Do not EVER call the possible son of our benevolent Messiah a punk.
The so called “Great Messiah” very well could have been that punk’s father.
He is an immoral, self centered, anti American despot.
While helping my neighbors is a creed I try to follow I do so at the least possible risk to myself. Far too often “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
I believe that this is the verse (in the Book of Proverbs) that you remember.
Proverbs 26:17 – He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.
I think one must strike a balance. To meddle in someone else’s troubles foolishly and without forethought is not wisdom. On the other hand, standing by with your hands in your pockets as your community is ravaged by crime is not wisdom either.
To quote Richard Niebuhr:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
There was a serious lack of “wisdom” by all the people involved in the Arbery Case. This includes the police, the prosecutors, the people condemned in court, the Anti-American Media, the Federal (IN)Justice Department and Ahmaud Arbery himself.
None of them (seemingly) have enough sense to pour sand out of a boot! It is enough to make one think that the human species is trending toward devolution.
Another theory. It is our current episode of mass insanity at work!
as to this one:
“Bartender, pour me a Kyle Rittenhouse.” “How do you make that?” “The chaser comes first, and then the shots.””.
Best belly laugh I’ve had in a week!!!! ‘
I still have your book and I highly recommend it for new ccw people and anyone else that carries.
My only disagreement with this article is “the police were over-extended and unable to control the situation which was a full-blown riot.”
This is not true. The police were ordered to stand down, and took no action, even when shots were fired near them.
Complete agreement with you otherwise, especially on the Arbery case.
You indicated (in a previous blog comment) that you might write-up the Rittenhouse case. You might want to, eventually, write up this Arbery case too. In some ways, the cases are opposites of each other.
While Rittenhouse made a few questionable decisions (being onsite for a riot, allowing himself to be isolated from his group, etc.), when he was attacked, he responded with sound actions and tactics. He was very judicious in his use of force.
He also did reasonably well at trial and on the stand. Despite a determined (and underhanded) attempt to railroad him into prison, he prevailed and was acquitted.
In the Rittenhouse case, you can point out a lot of things that were done right.
In contrast, the Arbery case is a Master Class on what not to do! As I noted above, every decision was a poor one. It is a case of mistake after mistake after mistake.
Very often, one can learn even more from mistakes than from case studies of things that are done right. It may be that, as a teaching tool, the Arbery case is even more valuable than the Rittenhouse case. Although, given its many defense-related and legal issues, the Rittenhouse case also has a lot to offer.
I would eagerly read your analysis of both of these cases. I recommend that they each deserve to be “written up”. These two cases, together, can teach many, many, many lessons on self-defense and the law.
IT IS SO WONDERFUL TO FINALLY HEAR SOME TRUTHS. THANK YOU! Look how long it takes to get the truth out about these cases. Hasn’t it been over a year for both of them, Rittenhouse and Arbery? Journalists really stink. They are know-nothings.
I’ll tell you what the three white men should have done. They should have used their phones to take photos and call the police. I am low-tech and have a flip phone. Even so, I can open my flip phone, press a button on the side, and quickly choose to take either still photos or even video. That is what they should have done with Arbery. Take photos and call the police.
The three white guys in Georgia could have chased down the black suspect and instead of shooting him, throw a large net over the guy, but then they may be charged with trying to capture and enslave him 🙁
But, according to some, slavery never ended in America. Ergo, slavery is still legal. According to Colin Kaepernick, the NFL enslaves black men to work on fields of grass and astro turf, instead of fields of cotton.
I’m not an attorney, but I have had training on the use of force, and on citizens arrest. Frankly, citizens arrest would seem to be a concept best ignored for the most part. Why? At least in the state I received my training in, citizens arrest was limited to felonies (and breaches of the peace, whatever that might be. I don’t recall further explanation after the decades I expect the standard is similar in most states.) committed in your view. Next question: what’s a felony in your state-besides a crime that has a possible penalty of more than one year in jail? Trespass? Not likely. Lurking? Nope. Casing the joint? Nope.
I didn’t follow the trial, but if they didn’t actually see commission of a known felony, they lacked authority to do more than gather information.
I’ll cheerfully defer to Mr. Branca on this one, but I do believe this is a case of “having to do something” overwhelming common sense and quite probably the law.
A couple comments here. About Arbery returning to the neighborhood. For 30 years I was a runner and would run the same route every day. That’s not suspicious, that’s human nature. Second, in the CPL classes I teach here in Michigan the standard for lethal force is that you or another person face the imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. I teach my students that we stop people, we don’t collect people. If someone needs to be arrested you write down a description and call 911. The police are trained to sort it out and have powers that private citizens lack.
“For 30 years I was a runner and would run the same route every day. That’s not suspicious, that’s human nature.”
Arbery did not limit himself to just running down the public street on the same route every day. Some in the Anti-American Media tried to sell that “Narrative”. That Arbery was nothing more than a simple, innocent jogger who happened to run the same route every day. You should not take media lies at face value.
If that was all he did, then there would have been no trouble. No, Arbery went well beyond just jogging down a public street on a regular basis. See this article:
Arbery was guilty of leaving the public street, on multiple occasions, and trespassing on private property. The police were actively looking for him, to warn him off of this behavior, as noted in the above article.
It is too bad that the police did not put a little more effort into finding Arbery and warning him off. It might have saved Arbery’s life and prevented ruining the lives of three other men.
As I noted before, this case shows the value of “Broken Window” Police work. What do I mean by this? See this link:
While trespassing is a low-level crime (a misdemeanor under Georgia law), it would have been better for the police to make a greater effort in this case. Their lackluster enforcement efforts regarding these trespass and theft crimes created a “climate of lawlessness” that encouraged private citizens to take overly aggressive actions. The result was tragic for everyone involved.
If the police had tried to stop and warn/interview Arbery, they may be accused of targeting and harassing him because he was a person of color. Racist motorists of that sort call it “driving while black”.
The best way for clever burglars to case a neighborhood is to jog, ride a bicycle, or walk a dog through the area. The latter is best as it allows the suspect to stop and stand around for a better look while appearing to let the dog take a dump.
@ Tom606 – “…they may be accused…”
In Blue States. the police get accused of racism just by putting on their blue uniforms. If they let fear of false accusations dictate their job, then they might as well take off their uniforms and turn in their badges.
The snowflake policies of the insane American Left will destroy us all if we bow down to them. If the police start warping their job to accommodate leftist demands, we will all end up playing by “Safari Rules”. The big, blue cities are already there.
What do I mean by Safari Rules? See this link:
Claude Werner opines that the mission of the armed citizen is to break contact, not close with the enemy and destroy them (military mission) or find criminals, arrest them and take them to jail (LEO mission). Kyle Rittenhouse was not looking for trouble, trouble found him. It was just the opposite in this case in GA. The McMichaels and Bryant went looking for trouble and found it. Unfortunately for them, it was not in the form they were expecting…
Speaking of trouble, the precise 80th anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack is at just before 0800 Honolulu Time, or 1800 Greenwich Mean Time, “tomorrow.” Really almost upon us. Maybe some time is left to get steam up and get out of Dodge if you want to, though, if you can beat the blizzard. Too bad this Hawaii snowstorm didn’t arrive 80 years ago. The Japanese Betty bombers would not have been able to find any targets. Or you could say we are lucky it is not 80 years ago, maybe. Just wondering what is going on in the world at this time.
I agree. If one thinks in terms of “Mission Objectives”, then the mission of an armed citizen is to survive, break contact and report (i.e. be a true and faithful witness for law enforcement). This mission is closer to the idea of being a scout (observe, survive and report) then anything else.
An armed citizen should not (unless driven by absolute necessity) ever let themselves be subject to “Mission Creep” and drift into performing the mission of law-enforcement (Arrest and Detain) nor should they go all out and try to perform a “Search and Destroy” military mission.
In this respect, the concept of “Citizen’s Arrest” is deeply flawed. No doubt, it served a purpose during our frontier history when law-enforcement was days or weeks away and citizens were often the only “Law” to be found. In our modern era, however, with instant communication being available to the police and police response being (typically) available within minutes, “Citizen’s Arrest” should be regarded as a measure of last resort.
Note that Georgia’s law regarding “Citizen’s Arrest” was a very old statute dating back to the time of the Civil War (when Georgia was still very rural and law-enforcement officers were often distant and/or unavailable). After this “Arbery Shooting”, this old law was updated. See this link for further details:
The updated statute is now on the books and the concept of “Citizen’s Arrest” is still out there in a new format. Nevertheless, Mas is correct (from a practical point-of-view) with his chapter entitled “The Dangerous Myth of Citizens’ Arrest”.
Mas, what is your opinion of the new Georgia Law. Is it “New and Improved” and better than the old statute?. Or is the concept of Citizens’ Arrest still deeply flawed even with this new verbiage?
I don’t see it as new and improved. A citizen holding a home invader for the police, at gunpoint, may be floating in uncharted waters with the law change in Georgia.
Judging by the verdicts, it would seem that self defense would have worked except that in the opinion of the jury, the defendants lost innocence because of the actions of the citizens arrest. So does citizen’s arrest have any validity in the modern legal environment. If it doesn’t it would seem to be in conflict with Peel #7.
‘To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
@ Richard – “…the defendants lost innocence because of the actions of the citizens arrest.”
I would not put it that way. It was not a case where the jury thought (IMHO) that the concept of “Citizens’ Arrest” was invalid and an automatic ticket to the loss of innocence. Rather, I think that the jury believed that the defendants did not have sufficient grounds to make a citizens’ arrest in this particular case.
As I understand it, the defendants did not actually see Arbery commit a crime. They were suspicious and thought that he might be involved in burglary at the construction site. However, GA law could be interpreted to say that you need solid “probable cause” that a felony has been committed before setting off in “hot pursuit” of someone to perform a citizens’ arrest.
All available evidence showed that Arbery was, at best, guilty of misdemeanor trespass. Maybe he was involved with more than that but there is (to my knowledge) no solid proof of it.
I think that the jury believed that the grounds for performing a citizens’ arrest were inadequate in this particular case. If so, then the hot pursuit of Arbery, by armed men, was a threat and a felony in itself. Ergo, the defendants lost their innocence and their claim of self-defense was rejected by the jury.
I think that, if there was solid probable cause to believe that Arbery had committed a felony (Say, he mugged a woman, assaulted her, stole her purse, they saw the crime occurring, and then chased him down to perform a citizens’ arrest), then the claim of self-defense would have likely stood up.
What this case illustrates is that chasing someone in order to perform a citizens’ arrest places the pursuer in a (legally) hazardous position. It is a risky thing to do from a legal point-of-view. One had better be sure of a felony offense and have rock solid justification before doing it. Otherwise, it is smarter to just observe and report to law-enforcement and let them handle the arrest.
Haven’t seen any jury comment so either of us could be right about their thinking. You are definitely correct that doing a citizens arrest on the street is legally risky and I won’t be doing it. As to the requirements of the citizen’s arrest law (at the time) in GA, Andrew Branca did an analysis and found it to be ambiguous and was critical of the judge’s instructions.
At any rate, if you believe in the Peelian principles, there should not be any difference in the legal standards for police and unsworn members of the public. This is clearly not the case in the real world and I worry about the implications of that.
I agree that, without any interviews from the jury members, it is hard to know what they were thinking. Some people have a logical mind and would view this case in terms of the facts and the law. In my view, this is the correct approach.
However, I think that most people are ruled by their emotions rather than by reason. In today’s environment, some people have been subjected to so much left-wing indoctrination and propaganda that they cannot help but see the world via a left-wing lens. Some are so steeped in “racism” that they view the whole world in terms of race. Such a person cannot help but view this case purely as a matter of race. To them, it is “Black and White”, literally.
For example, listen to this interview which discusses the Arbery case. You can tell that the minds of both the interviewer and the interviewee are dominated by racist-thought and racism. Race forms their entire worldview. See this link:
This kind of mindset is instilled by years of left-wing indoctrination and propaganda.
If the guys in GA had approached “The Jogger” with legally concealed weapons and asked him to stop and talk to them he probably would have attacked. That seemed to be his go to move anytime the police had an interaction with them. Then legal self defense would have been an option. By starting out illegally carrying a shot gun they set themselves up for prison.
The lesson that should (but wont) be taken from this incident is property crime is a big deal to the owner of the property. If the courts and the police choose to ignore it as is becoming the norm, more property owners are going to take the law into their own hands. Is it a good idea? Absolutely not. But it is going to happen. The best way to prevent cases like this if for police and the courts to take property crime seriously. When property owners know their call to the police will be answered and an officer will arrive shortly they are much less likely to go out and round up suspects themselves.
Thank God where I live here in Texas we don’t have much crime. And since I pawn shop a lot (low income area) I see many people… I have not found one person that is impolite. Slipped and fell in Walmart and this old black lady came up and asked if I was ok.. I laughed and said, “lucky for me I had years of judo!” Just good people around here!
As a result I am not faced with looking out for thievery. Sure we have ‘neighborhood watch’ signs but nothing like other places. I know every neighbor around us!
If I saw suspicious people, sure 911 is the way to go as our cops DO COME! Like I said, thank God I live in Texas.
The lesson to learn is if at all possible call the cops unless you see peoples lives in jeopardy. If you have a cell phone, photo and film! But if you have to intervene.. tread carefully! Don’t go looking for an excuse to use a gun.
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