T Nation

Kyle Rittenhouse Trial and the Law of Self-Defense

Let that be a lesson to everyone. Arbery dindu nuffin. Those evil white supreme pizzas,
just didn’t like the fact he was jogging with workboots instead of running shoes.

This is absolutely not the state of affairs in the US. People who shoot others for shoving them go to prison.

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Arberry was most likely doing something, but the something he was doing posed no imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury to anyone. I admit that I didn’t follow this case as closely as the Rittenhouse case, but it seems to me that this was a just verdict as well.

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If Arberry was Asian or white, do you honestly think charges would have been laid?
Or if the accused “murderers” were also black do you think the verdict would be the same?

Also if 99% of people jogging by a house were confronted by armed men accusing them of theft or trespassing, and they were innocent, they would say okay lets wait until the police arrive and let them clear this up. They wouldn’t initiate a struggle and try and grab the firearm off an armed individual.

As I said, I think the evidence suggests that Arberry was indeed up to something, most likely trying to take things from a home under construction. But he wasn’t attacking or chasing anyone. As far as whether I would stop if some guys demanded that I do so, I don’t know that I would. And this may sound like socioeconomic prejudice, but that’s especially so if the guys demanding I stopped looked like these defendants; they remind me too much of the guys from Deliverance. I don’t want to let myself be detained by guys who look like they might start complimenting me on my purty mouth.

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Apparently Arberry mustn’t have thought robbing a house in a Deliverence neighborhood, was much of a risk. If he was so scared of people like that he wouldn’t have even been there.
Fancy being shot when you try to grab a gun off someone, who’d have thunk it.

Until ordinary people stop making excuses for career criminals, that suffer from their own poor judgement, things are going to get worse

I’m certainly not making excuses for him. As I said, the evidence suggested that he was probably stealing from a home under construction. But it’s not a good idea for civilians to chase people that they think have committed a property offense, especially when it’s clear that the person wants to evade you. Doing so is a risky proposition if it goes sideways, and there’s a good chance that it will.

Definitely a risky proposition to try and apprehend an offender, but once again the criminals themselves accept no responsibility, and the justice system removes any responsibility from the original offender.
If he wasn’t somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be, and then didn’t try to take a weapon off someone, he would still be alive. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

This case seemed just as clear to me as Rittenhouse’s when the footage was first available. This is a case I’ve always said (in the Lethal Force Discussion thread) deserves to have a bright light shone on it. It was disgraceful that there were no charges filed until the cellphone video began circulating online.

Self-defense is not some cryptic body of law beyond the understanding of normal people. If you own a gun, carry a knife or have ever thought about swinging a baseball bat in self-defense, you owe it to yourself and everyone else in society to understand lethal force law. You should take classes and ask questions in these classes.

“Instructor, should we chase down people we suspect of petty crime?”


“But what if we mean well?”

"Be a good witness. Take video or photos and report it to the police."

“What if he’s on foot escaping down a public road and we have cars?”

"Be a good witness."

“What if we’ve got shotguns too?”

"No, now you’ve made the class 20 minutes longer while I explain why this is a horrible idea."

“Did I mention he’s a black guy?”*

"Get out of my class."


And tone-deaf, when he’s darker-skinned than you.

Yep. As a civilian, you shouldn’t be using force unless you simply have no choice. Otherwise you are putting not just your life but your liberty at serious risk.
I’ve often recommended the writings of Marc MacYoung here, and I’ll do so again on this particular point. Part of your planning for self-defense has to be thinking through how you’re going to explain yourself to the police and, potentially, to a jury. So your explanation probably shouldn’t begin with “Well, I was chasing down a guy I suspected of theft…”

I would think the biggest issue for the McMichaels was that the only crime they may have had probable cause to suspect Arbery of committing was trespassing-not a felony, unless I misunderstood the state of the structure he’d entered.

I think the biggest issue for the McMichaels is that they chased a guy down with guns drawn and then shot him to death.


It has been repealed since this incident, but it required a felony. Arbery was in an unfinished house(not a dwelling).
Georgia burglary: § 16-7-1 - Burglary :: 2010 Georgia Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia

I’m guessing the biggest problem was that Arberry posed no imminent threat to them or to anyone else. After that, yes, it probably didn’t help that the offense they suspected him of was a nonviolent offense, though I’m not sure if it qualified as a felony under Georgia law. I’m guessing the outcome might have been different here if Arberry fit the description of a serial rapist who had been terrorizing the neighborhood.

I’m going to assume Georgia doesn’t allow officers to issue warnings for felony offenses.

What required a felony? Are you seriously arguing that there’s a citizens arrest justification that ends with a valid self-defense claim here?

As to your link, many states have specific language about dwelling vs. structures on private property. My state does. This is an important distinction because people live in dwellings, not boat houses and wood sheds.

As nealdog already said, Aubery did not pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to any of these three men. They were not acting reasonably even if they were attempting a citizen’s arrest under some valid pretense.

The moment you arm yourself with a lethal weapon you assume the responsibility that goes along with it. The courts recognize this and place you under a higher standard of care, holding your conduct to higher standards.

These assholes created a deadly situation, killed a guy and now they are going to pay the price.

A valid citizen’s arrest.

That’s actually the exact opposite of what I’m arguing.

If they’d had a valid reason to arrest, I’d say they would be in the clear. Private citizens had full arrest powers if certain conditions were met.

What exactly are you arguing? It seems as though you’re suggesting that if Aubery’s behavior was a felony property or trespassing crime that it would be lawful to chase him down in cars with guns drawn on a public street. And then if he misinterprets that somehow and decides to fight for his life by grabbing your gun you can defend yourself against the now-imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.

Did I get that right?

Or am I missing something here?

Not for trespassing. If they’d had probable cause(as in they could swear out a warrant for the charge based on their knowledge) to believe he’d committed a felony, then they had the right to arrest him. Like a police officer would. Georgia’s burglary statute(I missed the last “or” in there, at first…I first read it to require that it be a dwelling regardless-which the under-construction shell of a future house would not be) would require he have entered with the intent to commit a theft(kind of hard to argue he intended to commit theft when he left a construction site with empty hands) or felony(a vacant building that’s not burning down really limits the other felonies that could be suspected).

I’m not sure they had guns drawn while chasing him, but it’s been a long time since I watched the video.

Yes. It’s now been repealed, though. I would imagine they would have also had to communicate to him that he was under arrest.