A series of emails have been sent to NewsOne purportedly from friends and acquaintances of the motorist in Georgia who saw a hit and run car accident that ended with a driver being shot dead Tuesday evening. Hannah Payne, 21, reportedly saw the collision that police in Clayton County described as a minor fender bender before she followed Kenneth Herring, 62, for a mile, blocked his car with hers, approached him and killed him with her gun. That was after she called 911, which police said typically advise callers against approaching people they’re calling about.
Payne is white and Herring is Black.
Her arrest and subsequent charge of one count of murder without malice resulted in social media users, in particular, claiming the killing was racist in nature. Considering the egregious nature of the charges and the current racial climate in the U.S., tweets that suspected racism were all but obligatory.
However, emails have been sent to this writer claiming that Payne was the farthest thing from racist and accusing NewsOne of falsely reporting that she was racist. (NewsOne never reported she was racist.)
One email said that the mere suggestion Payne could be behind a racist shooting of a Black man was ludicrous in part because her Facebook page showed she had many Black friends. However, a search for Payne’s Facebook turned up empty and a request by NewsOne to interview the people who sent the emails was denied. Because of that, the emails sent to NewsOne have been paraphrased and not quoted.
Another lengthier email said the comparisons NewsOne made between Payne and George Zimmerman were misguided. Zimmerman was the volunteer neighborhood watchman in Florida who followed and killed Trayvon Martin in 2012 even after a 911 operator told him not to approach the unarmed Black teen. He was eventually acquitted of murder under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law. Georgia also has a Stand Your Ground law, though it was unclear if Payne planned to use that for her defense.
The email went on to add that Payne has always been romantically attracted to Black males, using that as a primary reason why the shooting could not have possibly been racially motivated.
Another email said Payne lived in a neighborhood where people of all races live together. It was unclear where Payne called home, but the latest Census data for Clayton County showed that more than 71 percent of its residents were listed as being Black.
One email blamed Herring, a senior citizen who may or may not have even realized he had hit another car, for driving for a mile after the collision despite there being no reports that he sped away. If Herring did speed away, that would presumably mean that Payne had to drive faster (read: speed) than he was driving just to catch up with him before she used her car to block him in. Insurance companies have long advised drivers who witness a hit and run to document the license plate number of the offending driver and report it to authorities. For instance, State Farm said on its website that drivers involved in and witnesses of a hit and run should not “follow the fleeing driver. Leaving the scene of the accident could put you in a compromising position: You’ll miss getting eyewitness accounts — and police could question who’s really at fault.”
The email also wondered why Herring would make such a decision to keep driving. The email insisted that had roles been reversed, Payne would have remained on the scene of her car accident. It went on to say that she carried her legally licensed gun to protect herself from people like Herring. The author of the email didn’t respond to questions about what exactly that meant.
All of the emails shared one common refrain: trying to discredit the way that NewsOne has covered the shooting as potentially being motivated by race. That was even as most mainstream media outlets have seemingly ignored the story or moved on to other current events.
Upon first glance, there was no apparent direct evidence to suggest the shooting was racially motivated. But the circumstantial evidence, bolstered by the tragic trend of white people not in law enforcement trying to police Black people, appeared to be quite strong. That was especially true when factoring in how the shooting took place in Georgia, a state that prides itself on its role in the Confederacy. In fact, the Georgia House voted in late March “to increase the penalties against those who damage the state’s public and private monuments — and make it more difficult to remove or relocate Confederate markers,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time. That was as other, more progressive states have moved to remove Confederate monuments.
More recently, a mayor in a rural Georgia town rejected a Black man’s job application specifically because of his race.
Clayton County is located just 15 miles south of Atlanta, the state’s capital city where Black residents have long thrived socially and economically. But racism has persisted across the state, in both rural and urban locations, much like the rest of the country. Considering those facts, it was nearly impossible to rule out race as a motivational factor for Payne’s lethal pursuit of Herring.
Payne’s lawyer said his client was simply trying to do the right thing.
“It just seems like an unfortunate situation of a good Samaritan trying to stop a person on a hit-and-run,” Matt Tucker said.
A witness described Payne to WSB-TV as the aggressor who immediately claimed after Herring was shot that he was the one who pulled the trigger.
Given what is known about the shooting, it may come across as curious why more media outlets were not covering it. Aside from a handful of initial news reports following the news of Payne’s arrest, little other information has been reported with few, if any, follow-up news articles. Even social media was relatively silent despite that egregious nature of the shooting that typically makes for rabid fodder on Twitter and Facebook.
Regardless of what investigators discover, it was doubtful that Payne could be charged with a hate crime even if the shooting fit the criteria for it. That was because the Georgia House only recently passed a bill for what could become the state’s first hate crimes legislation. The bill must be approved by the state Senate before it can become law.
As of Friday afternoon, Payne remained locked up in Clayton County Jail without bond.
A Disturbing Timeline Of Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger Killing Botham Jean In His Own Home
1. August of 2018
Source:false 1 of 41
Botham Jean leading worship. This is who Amber Guyger killed. pic.twitter.com/NDv2zFoj1p— DJ Wade-O (@djwadeo) September 14, 2018
2. September 6, 2018Source:false 2 of 41
3. September 9, 2018Source:false 3 of 41
4. September 10, 2018Source:false 4 of 41
5. September 11, 2018Source:false 5 of 41
6. September 12, 2018Source:false 6 of 41
7. September 13, 2018
Source:false 7 of 41
Yesterday, I attended the funeral of Botham Shem Jean. It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. Botham was a man of God, a graduate of Harding University, a worship leader, and a brother in Christ. We shared the same city and the same small religious tribe. pic.twitter.com/5BxQyxPgaM— Collin Packer (@collinpacker) September 15, 2018
8. September 14, 2018Source:false 8 of 41
9. September 18, 2018Source:Radio One 9 of 41
10. September 21, 2018
Source:false 10 of 41
The Prime Minister of St. Lucia speaks out on the Botham Jean case.https://t.co/PnuaNzywEh— NewsOne (@newsone) September 21, 2018
11. September 24, 2018Source:false 11 of 41
12. September 26, 2018
Source:false 12 of 41
RIP Botham Shem Jean. He was a 26-year-old black man from St. Lucia who was shot and killed in his own apartment by a white Dallas police officer Thursday night. The officer reportedly faces manslaughter charges. https://t.co/50TnpC1Gb9 pic.twitter.com/shRJnkBcxK— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 8, 2018
13. September 29, 2018
Source:false 13 of 41
Today would have been Botham Jean's 27th birthday. We need to keep his name alive. We need police officers to be transparent, and we must remove biases from their ranks. We can't turn away from America's history of racial divisions, but we can pave a different path forward. pic.twitter.com/0ZfIZ8F1xv— Rep. Marc Veasey (@RepVeasey) September 29, 2018
14. October 5, 2018Source:false 14 of 41
15. October 17, 2018Source:false 15 of 41
16. October 17, 2018Source:false 16 of 41
17. October 19, 2018
Source:false 17 of 41
Botham Jean’s Mother On The Trump Administration: ‘Some People Just Don’t Care About Lives’ https://t.co/OROFcCf6kN— @pyramidfire (@pyramidfire) October 19, 2018
18. October 22, 2018Source:false 18 of 41
19. October 22, 2018Source:false 19 of 41
20. October 29, 2018Source:false 20 of 41
21. November 6, 2018Source:false 21 of 41
22.22 of 41
23. November 26, 2018Source:Dallas Police Department 23 of 41
24. November 30, 201824 of 41
25. December 28, 2018Source:Getty 25 of 41
26. December 30, 2018
26 of 41
Amber Guyger appears to continue to be protected by the city of Dallas.https://t.co/tYC6y0iXBz— NewsOne (@newsone) December 31, 2018
27.27 of 41
28. April 4, 2019Source:Getty 28 of 41
29. April 30, 201929 of 41
30. June 5, 2019
30 of 41
Botham Jean’s Mother Breaks Silence On Amber Guyger’s 911 Call https://t.co/y44q5FCXMw— ghetto intellectual™ (@kzshabazz) June 5, 2019
31. August 30, 2019
31 of 41
Dallas police officers were reportedly given new orders relating to Amber Guyger's murder trial for killing Botham Jean in his own home.— NewsOne (@newsone) September 3, 2019
Jury selection begins Friday.https://t.co/RBHayvIUF1
32. September 5, 2019
32 of 41
"I'm not raising my expectations," Allison Jean said about whether justice will be served in Amber Guyger's murder trial for killing her son, Botham Jean, in his own home in Dallas.— NewsOne (@newsone) September 5, 2019
Jury selection starts tomorrow, the anniversary of the shooting.https://t.co/cECezs80cQ
33. September 6, 2019
33 of 41
A year ago today Botham Jean was killed in his home by a cop because she was "tired" -- (yep, the fatigue defense). He was only 26 years old. A year later, still no trial (jury selection finally starts today). #BothamJean pic.twitter.com/ndK3Q4vNZV— Clay 'Didn't Hold My Vote Hostage' Cane (@claycane) September 6, 2019
34. September 16, 201934 of 41
35. September 18, 201935 of 41
36. September 20, 2019
36 of 41
Botham Jean’s sister hopes Amber Guyger trial will bring closure for family https://t.co/NzxmefgYby— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) September 19, 2019
37. September 23, 2019
37 of 41
Amber Guyger killed Botham Jean over a year ago. The trial stared today.https://t.co/jFI5944rgG— NewsOne (@newsone) September 23, 2019
38. September 24, 201938 of 41
39. September 25, 201939 of 41
40. September 27, 2019
40 of 41
"I wish he was the one with the gun that killed me."— ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2019
Amber Guyger, ex-Dallas police officer accused of killing unarmed man in his apartment, breaks down in tears on the stand as she recounts the night's tragic events. https://t.co/EHJNIYULgM pic.twitter.com/ryoJkObpuF
Emails Defend Accused Murderer Hannah Payne In Deadly Georgia Hit And Run was originally published on newsone.com