COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- It’s been 1 week since Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery was confronted by the father and son while in a neighborhood in Brunswick, GA. His death has sparked outrage and debates across the country.
In South Carolina, lawmakers have started thinking of ways to better protect residents if a similar situation were to arise.
Bills have been filed in both the House and Senate that defines what a resident can and cannot do in a citizen’s arrest.
“I was floored. I couldn’t bring myself to write about it, post about it,” said Senator Mia McLeod reacting to the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. McLeod is one of a handful of lawmakers who want to update laws on SC books.
Representative Mandy Powers Norrell had the same reaction. The Lancaster lawmaker is also pushing to update SC law.
“When I saw the prosecutors were not going intially prosecute because of citizen’s arrest I thought my goodness I have to see what the law says in South Carolina to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen here.”
Current state law allows a citizen to arrest a person and even take their life if that person has entered a house, is in possession of stolen property or simply raises suspicion that a crime might be committed.
Representative Powers Norrell continued, “The parts of the law in South Carolina that allow for deadly force are unconscionable. It’s hard to believe it’s not used more.”
Lawmakers in support of repealing certain provisions in the state’s citizen’s arrest law want to limit the use of deadly force to just the entering of a home.
Senator McLeod explained, “If it was a burglary or theft or drugs or anything that is nonviolent and that person’s life isn’t in imminent danger than I think the appropriate law enforcement authorities need to handle that.”
Lawmakers will probably not get to the bill before the end of the 2020 session and it will more than likely have to be refiled for the 2021 legislative session. However, lawmakers behind the change hope the bills at least start the conversation.
Even though South Carolina law allows the use of deadly force for several different scenarios, that deadly force is limited to suspicious activity at night.
In North Carolina, a citizen can only arrest someone in the process of assisting law enforcement.
Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law is similar to what’s currently on the books in South Carolina.