Ahmed Arbery, was a man killed by two residents of a subdivision in a South Georgia community. The focus of this comment is strictly limited to the defendants’ claims that they were trying to make a citizen's arrest of Ahmed Arbery when Mr. Arbery was killed.
I don't know and for purposes of this comment find it irrelevant whether Mr. Arbery was or wasn't a burglar who had committed felony burglaries in that neighborhood in the past. Further, for purposes of this comment I don't know and don't find it relevant to the subject matter of this comment whether the Defendants are racists looking to get the black guy jogger. My comment is strictly limited to whether a defense claim of citizen's arrest can apply to this situation. As you will see, I think the answer is an emphatic NO !
Under Georgia Law at the time of this incident, a citizen's arrest applicable to the facts of this matter was only allowed for felonies committed "in the presence" of the person making the arrest or committed "within the immediate Knowledge" of the person making the arrest. In the Arbery case the Defendants never witnessed Mr. Arbery committing a felony in their presence. Further while they suspected, rightly or wrongly, Mr. Arbery of having committed crimes in the neighborhood in the past, these suspicions just don't qualify as "immediate Knowledge" as defined in the Georgia statute.
Immediate knowledge in the Georgia statute was intended to cover situations such a woman walking down the sidewalk when a purse snatcher grabs her purse and she yells out "Stop that man! He just stole my purse." and hearing that cry and seeing the robber running away another person stops them and detains them for the police. Immediate Knowledge means immediately after the point in time that the felony is committed. It does not mean knowledge learned from watching a video tape days or weeks after the evens in question occurred. Finally, the citizen's arrest statute does NOT and Never has authorized a citizen to act days and weeks after an incident to enable such citizens to pursue a suspect, detain that suspect, and question that suspect. That is clearly the job of Police.
Yet in the Arbery case the Defendants are trying to argue that since the Defendants believed or had a suspicion that Mr. Arbery may have committed a felony which the Defendants did not witness in their “immediate presence” and of which they did NOT have "immediate Knowledge" that they decided to pursue Mr. Arbery, detain him, and question him. So, while the Defendants may not be guilty of intentional murder of Mr. Arbery, it seems to me they had a legally improper intent which led to Mr. Arbery's death. I just don't see how the Defendants escape a guilty verdict on either involuntary or voluntary manslaughter (Sometimes called 2nd Degree or 3rd Degree murder in some States).