5.15.20: A tragic death in Georgia

And questions of probable cause, race & citizen's arrest.

May 15, 2020.

Good Friday Morning. Yesterday’s questions about the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery elicited a lot of anger and emotion, and many of you submitted thoughtful comments on the subject. There was also a desire to hear what other folks are saying.

This might be the most excited I’ve been to see the results of everyone else’s answers.

You’ve been heard. Rather than trying to summarize the comments or pick only a few, I’ll let them speak for themselves. The full list of comments related to the death of Ahmaud Arbery can be found below.

Another comment asked to end the week on a lighter note, and given these tough times, we’ll try to do just that. Click the Let’s Talk button to get started.

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Thank You.

Finally, it’s already been one month since we first started this conversation here on Tina. Talk about a quarantine time vortex.

Our community is growing — and we’re growing stronger every day thanks to all of you. I hope you enjoy “talking to Tina” as much as I enjoy hearing from all of you, even if some of you like to troll me from behind the cloak of anonymity ;)

If you feel so inclined, help us grow even more and share this with a friend or family member by forwarding this email or by clicking the Share Tina button below.

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Here’s to making month 2 even better. Thanks again. Have a great weekend, everyone.


Results from May 14, 2020

Question 1: Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man from Georgia, was shot to death by two white men. Are you familiar with this news story?


Question 2: Do you believe the two men who shot Ahmaud Arbery had probable cause that Arbery was a burglary suspect?


Question 3: Do you believe the two men who shot Ahmaud Arbery should be tried for murder?


Question 4: How much of a role do you believe race played in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery?


Question 5: Many states have laws permitting "citizen's arrests", allowing citizens to forcibly detain one another in the event a crime is committed when police are not present. Do you believe states should permit citizen's arrests?


Make it all the way through but forget to answer today’s questions?

Click on the Let’s Talk button below to get started.

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Comments from our Community

  • The Georgia law-enforcement authorities who investigated and declined to charge the two murderers should themselves be thoroughly investigated and, if appropriate, removed from office.

  • the idea that non-law enforcement offers should take law into their own hands is moronic, and would almost guarantee any case against the person arrested would be thrown out given that fact that evidence would NOT be handled properly, and good defense attorney would be able to discredit anything brought to court

  • I think citizens arrest is complicated. In many ways, I think it becomes a warrant for vigilante racists to do exactly what they did to Ahmaud. On the other hand, in cases of domestic violence or a hit and run - I think it could be a good thing.

  • As a retired officer and an attorney, familiar with Probable cause, requirements for lawful citizen arrests, and the role race can play in such encounters I would recommend that all the facts are gathered before a knee jerk reaction to the information released so far is made. The video is compelling and disturbing on many levels but methodically investigating ALL THE FACTS, rather than trying the defendants in the court of public opinion is preferable, for only then can we as a society be comforted that justice is meted out. If there are then a conviction(s) we know these men had their day in court and any punishment was well deserved. On a gut level I think these defendants have a problem, as the version I am hearing/seeing of their use of deadly force is highly suspect based on the facts laid out and Mr. Arbery's actions when confronted by the armed defendants. Did race play a role? I have not heard specific evidence of this, but that's not to say it does not exist or enhances the crimes alleged. Hate crimes are justifiably punished more severely when proven.

  • If that video didn't get released they would've gotten away with it. I want to trust the police but then things like this and the murder by the officers in KY happen. This is why people kneel. (Which is more respectful) than playing then protecting w high powered weapons.

  • They should be tried for manslaughter, not murder on the thinking he was suspicious.

  • A citizen’s arrest is a detainment until police arrive. It is not a license to shoot someone. Even if someone did steal something it doesn't give the person the right to shoot someone. Do police shoot fleeing shoplifters? When stupid people are allowed to have weapons, without in-depth vetting and training, tragic things like this happen.

  • A citizen's arrest requires (I think...) people to see an actual crime being committed. Jogging is not a crime.

  • I think the McMichaels genuinely believed they had cornered a burglary suspect, but utilized racial biases in coming to this assumption. However, the actions they took next -- shooting an unarmed black man who made no moves to harm them -- is unacceptable and they deserve to be tried for murder.

  • I’m a little skeptical of making a citizen’s arrest in certain instances. For example, if a suspect is armed or I don’t know if they are armed and I am not, I cannot protect myself and do not have the proper training to do so.

  • I am deeply frustrated with people justifying the killing of Arbery by citing the home security video showing Arbery entering a house under construction. So now a presumed burglary justifies a "self-defense" murder???

  • This story makes me sick.

  • Ahmaud is just the most recent case in the media, but this happens all the time. This country is sick with racism. Ignorant opinion is treated as equal to fact-driven information, and political leaders make it worse. I am sick over this case, but I am not surprised.

  • There is a big difference between a citizen's arrest and shooting someone.

  • I don't think the two men who murdered Arbery had probable cause to do so, but I am genuinely curious as to what Arbery was doing in the footage captured of him walking into the house under construction. Although the footage shows him simply walking in, looking around, and walking out, what was he doing there in the first place?

  • The public eye will be focused on Breonna Taylor's murder, this will be a flashpoint given the Arbery case but is a lot less clear cut (the Arbery case is clearly murder any reasonable party can conclude)

  • One of the biggest issues I had around the Arbery case wasn't just with the perpetrators or the victim, and what citizens should be allowed to do, but with the police and justice system that didn't investigate the murder until after it blew up on social media. It is unclear to me if the police had access to the video before it surfaced online, and that legal proceedings could have been delayed due to COVID travel restrictions, but they had taken no action to investigate the case seriously prior to this week. We shouldn't have a justice system where actions are taken based on public sentiment, or accountability just for when you might look bad in the national media.

  • In a time when so many are accused of racism with little evidence this incident screams of red-neck bigotry. However, we still live in the United States. All are innocent until proven guilty.

  • Clearly the concept of citizen’s arrests has led to many instances of miscarriages of justice. But what difference does it make when the police are also frequently responsible for wrongfully murdering People of Color and almost always getting away with it? In March, Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home by police who opened fire on her. They were pursuing a suspect and broke into THE WRONG HOME. She is just one victim on an ever-growing list of POC who were murdered because of this country’s despicable and deadly combination of racism, fear, and unfettered access to firearms.

  • It is really hard to judge these circumstances with incomplete information, but most people do it anyway. (Maybe that is actually the crux of the issue at hand) People are quick to judge actions that occur in circumstances they've never been in (like a police shooting) and others are quick to assert the impossible circumstances in which someone was forced to act as absolution for any judgment. The problem, however, is that there are sometimes decisions that you made which place you in those circumstances. One person came around the front of a vehicle to a shotgun pointed at him and reacted. Another man was attacked while he was holding a gun, and reacted. Things went very badly, very quickly. The question on my mind after watching that video, was less about what happened in a struggle over a gun in the moment-who was exerting self-defense? than about what decisions made that moment inevitable. Frankly speaking, I can't understand how pursuing that man while armed, and confronting him that way, even if presuming the other to be armed, was likely to deescalate the situation. My uncle used to run a Youth Ministry in a rough part of a rough city, and always carried a concealed firearm. He stopped because he started thinking he was going to find himself in a situation where he would have to use it. That is not an anti-gun sentiment as I have often carried a concealed handgun, and will in the future. But the point is that you make decisions which place you in situations, and you have to be accountable for them. But they are not all equal. IF that man was guilty of a crime, that does not mean he automatically should be responsible for losing his life. If he entered someone's home at night, those decisions would look very different. But if you pursue someone-you have initiated that confrontation, and it is your decision that should be questioned. Did they go out there with the thought they might actually have to use those guns they brought, or just brandish them? I don't know. Did they pursue, and ultimately kill that man (regardless of fault/law/circumstance) because he was black? I don't know and neither do you. Frankly, they might not even know. But if you put all of their pictures alongside one another, the messaging doesn't look too good. Bottom line, it was a preventable event and there will undoubtedly be more distrust, hate, and violence that result from it having occurred. We ought to have a lot fewer preventable tragedies. We also should figure out how to react and respond to them better as a collective society, because there will never be zero.

  • Law enforcement is so corrupt. How many other jobs are there where you can shoot a random person and face no consequences? That EMT was killed by police and her partner tried to defend their home against an intruder. He’s being charged with attempted murder while the police aren’t being charged with anything.