Georgia Senate passes bill to repeal citizen’s arrests following Arbery’s death
Georgia’s Senate passed legislation on Monday that would repeal citizen’s arrests after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery last year.
The bill passed in a 52-1 vote. It would limit citizen’s arrests to police officers, security officers and business owners, The Associated Press reported.
The measure also clarifies that deadly force cannot be used during an arrest unless a person is in immediate danger.
“You can’t use deadly force to stop somebody if you think they might have stolen a TV from somebody’s house down the street, because sometimes this leads to consequences that aren’t intended when citizens try to play police officer, not being trained and not having the full picture,” state Sen. Bill Cowsert (R) said.
If a police officer does not arrive within a reasonable amount of time during a citizen’s arrest, the person must be let go, according to the bill text.
State Sen. Lindsay Tippins’s (R) amendment to allow any business owner to conduct an arrest if they believe their property was stolen was added in a 33-18 vote, according to the AP.
The amendment means the bill will need to be sent back to the House for another vote.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has indicated he would sign the bill into law.
The legislation would overturn an 1863 state law that said any “private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge.”
The law was cited in the case involving Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael — two white men — who are on trial for the shooting death of Arbery, a Black man, while he was jogging.
The two defendants have been charged with murder and aggravated assault. They are being held without bail.
Kemp called the shooting “horrific” and said this new law “prevent[s] the terrible consequences of a vague and outdated law.”