On May 7, 62-year-old Kenneth Herring was shot and killed on Riverdale Road and Forest Parkway in Clayton County, Georgia by 21-year-old Hannah Payne who wanted to arrest Herring for fleeing a hit and run. However, Payne is not a cop.
Kenneth Herring was involved in a crash Clark Howell Highway at Highway 85. Payne, a white woman, was a witness to the accident. Law enforcement stated that no one was hurt during the crash and there wasn’t any extensive damage.
Kenneth Herring left the scene of the accident in the midst of an apparent medical emergency that another witness described as “probably like diabetic shock.”
“When Mr. Herring left the scene, Ms. Payne followed him to the corner of Riverdale Road and Forest Parkway in which time she cut his vehicle off making his vehicle stop," said Major Anthony Thuman of the Clayton County Police Department. “The information I received is that she was trying to get him to return to the scene," he said.
According to several witnesses, they told Detective Keon Hayward of Clayton County Police that gun-toting Payne got out her car and demanded that Herring return to the scene. When Herring did not comply, she struck him several times as he sat in the driver’s seat of the car. On the 911 call, she can reportedly be heard saying, “Get out of the f***ing car… I’m going to shoot you.”
Disturbingly, on Friday (May 31), Hannah Payne was granted bond by Judge West as she awaits a murder trial. A preliminary hearing determined earlier this week there was probable cause to proceed with her prosecution. Conditions of her bond include not carrying a gun, wearing an ankle monitor, and staying away from other principles involved in the case. Her bond is set at $100,000.
See the news clip below:
According to Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, Payne was the clear aggressor in the situation and “she thinks she’s the police or wants to be a police officer.”
“She’s blocked him in and he has nothing [is unarmed], and then she shoots him,” the district attorney said at a preliminary hearing this week.
Detective Hayward also described how in Payne’s 911 call, she can be heard in the background telling Herring to “get out of the car, get out of the car, get out of the f****** car.” Allegedly, she may have dropped the phone at some point during the altercation.
When she picked the phone back up, she told the 911 operator, “He just shot himself with my gun,” Hayward testified.
Payne’s defense attorney, Matthew Tucker, stated that the incident was a citizen’s arrest gone wrong and that she was acting in self-defense hyped up by unclear directions from a 911 operator who told her to stay at the crash scene but try to get Herring’s vehicle tag number.
Attorney Lawson brought up the point that the law in the state of Georgia allows for "citizen's arrest" only if the citizen witnesses a felony; the collision, Lawson said, was a misdemeanor traffic offense.
“You cannot claim self-defense and use deadly force unless you’re not the initial aggressor – she is,” she said.
While being questioned by Tucker, Hayward said he does not yet have the results of the crime lab tests to determine whether Payne's skin was found underneath Herring's fingernails, or whether Herring's palm prints or fingerprints were found on Payne's handgun.
Herring’s wife, Christine Herring, and activists who accompanied her at a press conference after the proceedings condemning it as a vigilante killing and compared it to the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman.
She also described him as a grandfather of three who was a “hardworking man, a good grandfather, a good husband, just a good person all around.”
Herring said she just wants justice for her husband.
“I believe she’s gonna be found guilty cause everything points to her,” she said. “She was the one following the man a whole mile, and then shot him ... she was trying to act like the police.”
Christine Herring added that she is still confused about why Payne killed her husband.
“I was still trying to figure out why she was trying to actually follow him all the way, block him in and kill him,” she said. “I’m still trying to figure that out, what was the point?”