Rep. Gilliard says Chatham Co. couple held at gunpoint is example why change to citizen’s arrest law was important

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:42 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A local state lawmaker is weighing in after a Chatham County couple was held at gunpoint on August 26th.

Representative Carl Gilliard reached out to WTOC after learning about Derick Green and his pregnant girlfriend’s dangerous encounter on Fort Argyle Lane.

He says a situation like this is one of the reasons why Georgia repealed its Citizen’s Arrest Law.

“The key thing was, it really pricked me back then that Ahmaud Arbery might be alive if this group of individuals had not taken the law into their own hands, so when someone is suspect, call the law,” said. Representative Carl Gilliard. “It is the same thing with Derick Green.”

Representative Gilliard co-sponsored House Bill 479. Its passage ultimately lead to the repeal of Georgia’s Citizen’s Arrest Law.

“The Citizen’s Arrest bill is predicated on do not take the law into your own hands,” said Representative Gilliard. “Pick up the phone and called 911. They are the professionals.”

The removal of the civil-war era law prevents people from arresting others who they believe committed a crime.

The written report from Chatham County Police does not say Charles Thomas Berry called police. The report states Green was on the phone with dispatchers.

However, Berry told police because Fort Argyle Landings Club owned the property and he was the president, Green and his girlfriend needed to identify themselves. He added, there had been previous issues on the road they were on and was not sure if they were involved.

Representative Gilliard explained why he believes the confrontation between Berry, Green, and his girlfriend is a Citizen’s Arrest.

“You cannot hold somebody,” said Representative Gilliard. “You cannot detain someone in any way form or fashion. He kept saying, as the accusation went, ‘We want to get out here. We want to go. Let us go.’ and he’s holding them. It could have been a situation where Mr. Green would have had the right to defend himself if he felt he was in harm’s way. No person has the right to pull a gun out and say that I am holding you and detaining you in any way.”

WTOC confirmed Berry was released from the Chatham County Jail on bond on August 27th. He is still facing charges of pointing a gun at another person, false imprisonment, DUI-Less Safe, simple assault, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.

Rep. Gilliard also says he reached out to Green to compliment on how he handled the situation.

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