Pretrial motions Aug. 16; trial calendar Nov. 14
The Ahmaud Arbery shooting has drawn comparisons to the May 2019 shooting death of Kenneth Herring. In that case, Hannah Payne, a white woman, chased down and blocked Herring, a Black man, in traffic near the airport after Herring had left the scene of a minor traffic incident. Investigators have said Herring apparently was having a diabetic emergency and may have been trying to drive himself to a hospital. Payne, who had a pistol, approached Herring’s car and ordered him to get out. The two allegedly struggled over the gun and Herring was fatally shot in the torso.
A check of updated online court filings reveals that, on April 20, two days after Hannah Payne’s immunity motion, an order was granted releasing Payne to Clayton County Behavioral Health Accountability Court personnel with 60 days’ worth of medication.
The Behavioral Accountability Court’s stated purpose is “to provide a court supervised diversionary program to adult offenders who suffer from a severe and persistent mental illness; including those with a co-occurring disorder. The court will improve public safety by reducing the recidivism rates of people with mental illnesses, reduce corrections cost by providing an alternative to incarceration, and improve the quality of life of people with a mental illness by connecting them with treatment and preventing re-involvement in the criminal justice system.”
Herring’s family and others have pointed out that Payne was twice granted bond in the case, once on a superseding charge, and has remained free with an ankle monitor. They say a Black defendant facing similar charges would not have been granted bond.
Payne’s family says the incident was not racially motivated. Her defense attorney, Matt Tucker, has said that Herring allegedly had a knife in his car and that his client has “learned a very valuable lesson.”
Payne, 23, is scheduled for a calendar call for pre-trial motions on August 16 at 2 p.m. before Clayton County Superior Court Judge Shana Rooks Malone. As of press time, the case is on the November 14 jury trial calendar.
The Clayton Crescent has left a message with Payne’s attorney, Matt Tucker, and the NAACP Clayton County Branch’s C. Synamon Baldwin seeking comment.