Citizen’s arrest law is due for changes, Kemp says in address

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 5:56 AM EST
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ATLANTA (WTOC) - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp addressed Georgia legislators Thursday about his top priorities for the state in 2021.

In his State of the State address, Kemp pushed hope and optimism for the state getting through the COVID-19 pandemic, but also touched on a high-profile case that gained national attention over the summer.

Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last February while jogging through a Glynn County neighborhood. A viral video of the killing was released in May, showing two men- Gregory and Travis McMichael - chase down and shoot Arbery, who has family ties to the CSRA and is buried near Waynesboro.

The men told police they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect; his family says he was jogging.

The case has drawn attention to Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute, a law Kemp says needs changes.

“The deranged behavior that led to this tragedy was excused away because of an antiquated law that is ripe for abuse and enables sinister, evil motives. That’s why my administration plans to introduce significant reforms to our state’s citizen’s arrest statute, and working with legislative leaders and members of both parties, I believe that we can take another step toward a better, safer, and more just future for our state. We can again send a clear message: Georgia is a state that protects all of its people and fights injustice wherever it is found,” Kemp said.

Three men - the McMichaels and the man who filmed the video, Roddie Bryan - are awaiting trial in that case.

The law was created in 1863.

From left, father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, accused in the shooting death of...
From left, father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, accused in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia on February 2020, listen via closed-circuit TV, as lawyers argue for bond to be set.(Source: AP Photo/Lewis Levine)

State Rep. Carl Gilliard from Garden City is one of our state representatives who’s been behind getting rid of the law since Arbery’s death. In fact, he says House Bill 45 has been pre-filed this year to repeal it in its entirety.

“We filed House Bill 1203 on the remainder of the 2020 season and we just pre-filed the bill for this session. I think it’s great to move Georgia forward, that the Governor is focusing on repealing this outdated law,” said Rep. Gilliard.

Gilliard believes repealing this law is long overdue. He’s excited to work with fellow lawmakers and the Governor to get it done.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what we have to do to work together. We want to see this bill become a reality and others to follow in the areas of criminal justice,” Gilliard said.

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