Hannah Payne, who is charged in the 2019 fatal shooting of motorist Kenneth Herring during a traffic dispute, Is scheduled for a calendar call for pre-trial motions August 16, 2022 at 2 p.m. Clayton County Superior Court Judge Shana Rooks Malone will preside in Room 403 of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center.
Payne, who is white, is charged with chasing down and shooting Herring, a Black man who first responders said may have been in the middle of a diabetic emergency when he sideswiped another vehicle, then left the scene. 911 operators told Payne not to follow Herring’s truck, while her attorney, Matt Tucker, said a corrections officer had directed Payne to do so.
Payne, who had recently gotten her weapons carry license, allegedly cut off Herring in traffic and ordered him out at gunpoint. Payne and Herring allegedly struggled over the pistol and Herring was fatally shot in the abdomen.
Herring’s wife, Christine, has said she believes he was trying to drive himself to a nearby hospital.
Payne faces two counts of felony murder, one count each of malice murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment, and three counts of weapons possession during a crime. She is considered innocent until and unless she is found guilty in a court of law.
If she presents evidence to convince the judge that she acted in self-defense, her case could be dismissed. Otherwise, the case would go to trial.
Payne also could enter a guilty plea at any point leading up to a jury’s decision if she chose to do so. Her attorney, Matt Tucker, has said the incident was an unfortunate life lesson and pointed to Payne’s high school band participation and employment as signs she is a good citizen.
Clayton County prosecutors have said Payne started the incident, that Herring was unarmed, and that she therefore cannot claim self-defense.
Civil rights groups, including the NAACP Clayton Branch, have criticized the length of time the case has taken to get to the trial phase, and are particularly upset that Payne received bond twice and was sent home with an ankle monitor. Herring’s family members had sent letters to the court, asking that she be denied bond. They question whether a Black defendant facing the same charges would have been given the chance to go home with an ankle monitor.
This case, like others, has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the lead prosecutor on the case took a job with the Attorney General’s office and the detective in the case, Keon Heyward, was let go from Clayton County Police due to a positive drug test. While the case has drawn national interest on social media, it has gotten little news coverage outside of metro Atlanta during the pre-trial phase.
As of press time, Payne’s case is on the November 14 jury calendar.
Read our timeline for the history of State of Georgia v. Hannah Payne.