Gov. Kemp pushes overhaul of citizens arrest statute following Arbery murder

Surrounded by Republicans and Democrats in the state Capitol rotunda, Governor Brian Kemp explained why he felt compelled to repeal the Civil War-era statute of the Citizens Arrest Statute used as a defense by the father and don duo charged with the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.

"The horrific killing of Ahmaud Arbery shook the Georgia community to its core. Ahmaud was a victim of vigilante-style violence that has no place in Georgia and some tried to claim they had the protection of an antiquated law that is ripe for abuse," said Governor Kemp.

The 23-year-old Brunswick man was jogging in broad daylight on February 23, 2020, when he was chased, cornered, and fatally shot by Travis and Gregory McMichael and their friend William Bryant, who recorded the deadly encounter on his cell phone. The three men used pickup trucks to corner Arbery. Travis can be seen on video firing a shotgun as Arbery tried to defend himself.

The men claimed they thought Arbery was connected to burglaries in their Brunswick community. Gov. Kemp said what happened to Arbery pointed out the need to change the law and he said the proposed overhaul clarifies when someone can be lawfully detained.

"Law enforcement officers can still perform arrests outside of their jurisdiction when a crime is committed in front of them, in hot pursuit of an offender or when helping fellow officers. This legislation clearly allows business owners to detain people and turn them over to authorities when crimes are committed on their premises," said Kemp.

"Like the anti-hate crimes legislation, Reforming Georgia's Citizens Arrest Statute is first and foremost about who we are as a state. The killing of Ahmaud and others last year rightfully led to calls for change and meaningful action," said Kemp, who expects the measure to receive bi-partisan support with the passage before the end of the 2021 legislative session.

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