Can a citizen arrest a Police officer in the commission of a crime?

Hey y’all,
I’ve watched the videos as you have of the Flyod case.
My question is can a civilian intervene and arrest as an officer of the law? How in this circumstance can you legally intervein?


I am curious if there is a “legal” way, but I would not say it is a good idea under any circumstances. Assault on a police officer is a serious charge and you would have to 100% be sure you are objectively on the right side of the law. Is a police officer applying “too much force” is a subjective question.

In Floyd’s case, he dies which is objective, but if you manage to save him by tackling the officer off of him he’s alive and it is now subjective.

I thought about this myself, and have come up with 2 options, I’d love to hear other’s thoughts and options as well.

  • Call 911 and request for immediate help, more officers, and EMTs and explain what is going on. Emphasize the subject is controlled, the officer is applying lethal pressure, and an anxious crowd, lots of video footage, and maybe suggest they likely dont want to create a riot
  • Act as a mediator between the other officer and the crowd. The 2nd officer in the video was so focused on the (rightfully) agitated crowd that he never checked on his partner or the subject in their custody. So maybe something like “officer, what would it take for you to check on the subject? can i help you push back the crowd far enough so you can check? How far? Another 10ft is that enough?” Then ask the crowd “if you care about that man, lets back up, just for 1 minute, so he can get assistance. continue recording to see if he complies”

there was a Martial Arts expert at the seen who tried to intervene / As you can see other civilians also were verbally intervening. This is a very unfortunate situation - I can not imagine why the show of force - I can only say from what i saw on the video - that the officer who had his knee on his neck, hand in pocket like he had all day taunted the subdued man with words like “Get in the Car” but would not allow him to do so - That says it all -

In regards to your comment regarding citizen arrest I do not think that would apply, IDK but a few thoughts A civilian can help a police officer make an arrest - you see it all the the time - Any person helping a suspect is considered interfering

  • the best weapon to these unfortunate acts are the power of camera

So what I’m getting from the replies so far is that officers are above the law and until the man is dead then there is nothing you can do. That there are no preventative measures to stop them…

For instance… If an officer unreasonably for no reason and with no warrant breaks into my home and points a gun at me I can’t shoot him/her. Otherwise, like in the Kenneth Walker case, I could be charged with attempted murder of a police officer, even though the house was raided incorrectly and after the suspect they were looking for was already in custody 24 hrs prior. But if a civilian does I have the right to shoot him/her…

That if I watch 2 officers beating a man over the head with duty flash lights till he is a bloody mess and dies that there is nothing I can do but videotape and call the police… The same police who are beating him and caving in his skull… as in the Malice Green case.

That, without warning and without imminent threat cause the people had no criminal history and are SLEEPING, police can fire into a house blindly and kill the sleeping suspect and wound his girlfriend… but if a civilian did that in say a drive-by I could defend myself

If an officer is choking someone for 8 full minutes and that person is visually no longer conscious/dead there is nothing I can do cause well it’s a cop. And if I were to do something trying to save the man’s life I could be arrested or as in Mr. Floyd’s case even murdered. But if a civilian were to start choking another person out and that person became visibly unconscious from oxygen deprivation I could shoot them in defense…

I didn’t think anyone was above the law… Apparently I’m wrong


So it would seem. This sounds like a question for an attorney. I will circle back on this topic.


In today’s society it would take something so glaringly obvious as that video for me to intervene. Physically, I am not a coward, morally I am not a coward, but of police and prosecutorial discretion I am terrified.

Some of the answers above are what I would have done except a bit more forcefully in calling for a supervisor.

As an example, 10ish years ago my daughter got out of competitive travel cheernastics and decided to do school cheer. For those of you who don’t know what cheernastics is it is a physically brutal and demanding sport. Netflix has a docuseries called Cheerleader U, my daughter’s team is shown in some of the footage and knows most of them from cheer. FF through the interviews it’s not a good look but watch the practices and falls and how frequently they get injured since the only protective gear is a couple inches of foam mat.

Anyways, the youth football and cheerleaders had the football field/park on Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m. We usually left around 8:30 p.m. But my daughter had acquired a new tumbling pass and wanted to try and see if she could do it on the field. I acquired enough info about coaching and spotting her through the years of travel cheernastics and practices 3-5 times a week, that I had been spotting her for years.

Anyways 3 police officers, one of them a shift commander climbed a gate and came up, I told my daughter to go get some water. Those three officers hemmed me in, and aggressively questioned my presence there. I asked them was this necessary and could I send my 10 y/o daughter to the car as she didn’t need to see it.

I then explained why I was there, showed my parks issued ID and showed them my coaches ID since I was the cheer coach. At one point they were clustered so tightly they were pinballing me off each other. I remained calm and had my phone recording the verbal exchange. They finally finished and let me go. I went and unlocked the gate so I could drive out and so the officers wouldn’t have to climb the gate to get back out to their cars.

Afterwards, I calmed my daughter down, took her for Ice Cream and went home.

The next day I went to see the Chief to make a complaint. After a lot of time, I got an official “I am sorry, that the incident happened, but they were responding to a complaint about the fields lights being on”.

Want to know the funny, that fields lights are on every Wednesday night in the Fall from, 6-10 pm every week. For youth football and cheerleaders.

So, I would try to get a supervisor there, or maybe even offer my services as an EMT. But physically interfere . No I wouldn’t. I fear LEO discretion that much.

I will reserve my final judgement on what happened, I will just say it doesn’t look right.


You can try…


Exactly. You can try to arrest a police officer (or officers), but remember that they have tasers, OC, batons or asps, restraints, and pistols. They also train regularly to fight and subdue, both individually and in groups. They have more legal training than most citizens, and as government agents, they have a degree of protection.

But sure, if you want to try to arrest an officer…


And it is largely due to a citizen’s helplessness against law enforcement officers that demonstrations take place. However, angry people don’t want demonstrations - they want riots. They want to vent their anger in visible ways. Unfortunately, there seem to always be those who want to use the violence and confusion to get away with theft.
It takes courtesy, respect, and understanding to solve this issue, and since your thoughts and emotions are generated by the things we see and hear; it is not likely to become our operating principles.


to save a life…i would have tackled the LAW OFFICER off the innocent till proven guilty person in AMERICA!


Yeah, it’s never a good idea to arrest ANYBODY unless your a cop.

Here in Louisiana, on regular citizen it would be considered ‘False Imprisonment’ which is a felony.

On a officer, I would imagine you would meet the boot. But let’s ask @MikeBKY his legal ‘opinion’ and what he had done IF you would have tried to arrest him when we was a Sheriff Deputy [Not a good idea! Just saying].

I like the question just not the repercussions.


Stole this from Carpenter at Law. But this applies for Louisiana and sorry only a felony here if have weapon and I would have one so…

Criminal False Imprisonment — Louisiana

The Crime of False Imprisonment in Louisiana

Under the law, there are two types of false imprisonment: 1) Civil False Imprisonment, which is known as a tort (civil wrong) and 2) Criminal False Imprisonment, a criminal offense. Naturally, I am going to discuss the criminal offense, since this is a criminal defense attorney blog.

People usually want to know if false imprisonment is a felony or a misdemeanor offense. The answer to this questions depends on the statute under which the individual is charged and the facts surrounding the incident.

Under La. R.S. 14:46, false imprisonment is defined as “the intentional confinement or detention of another, without his consent and without proper legal authority.” Whoever commits this offense shall be fined not more than $200.00 and imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both. This offense is a misdemeanor.

Under La. R.S. 14:46.1, false imprisonment is defined as “the intentional confinement or detention of another while the offender is armed with a dangerous weapon.” Whoever commits this offense shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for no more than 10 years. This crime is a felony — but it is probatable, meaning the judge may suspend the offender’s sentence and sentence the offender to probation.


Anyone who is convicted of False Imprisonment (with or without a weapon) of a victim who is under the age of 18 will have to register as a Sex Offender for 15 years , to be updated annually.


I can only answer this question with respect to Kentucky law, but yes, a citizen can arrest a police officer for if a felony has been committed and he has probable cause to believe that it was committed by the police officer. KRS 431.005(6)

A private person may make an arrest when a felony has been committed in fact and he or she has probable cause to believe that the person being arrested has committed it.

The real question is whether or not it is practical or even possible to do so and the consequences in doing so. First, if you are wrong, you will be charged with every possible crime (assault, false arrest, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, …) they can throw at you. The next question is how are you going to affect the arrest? “Officer handcuff yourself?” Are you going to do so at gunpoint and are you ready to use or receive deadly force?

The bigger problem in the Floyd case is that there are 4 officer’s present. There is not a chance in Hades that a citizen could intervene in the detention of the Floyd while there are 3 other officers present.

Objectively, I am still waiting to know more. I know that Floyd did not die from asphyxiation or strangulation per the arrest warrant from the initial autopsy findings. The most likely cause of death is excited delirium. We will find out more when the complete autopsy report is released.


Wow! Thanks for that share @MikeBKY

All good information but particularly that about Floyde. Never read the M.E. report yet.

I did however hear the family was hiring a private Medical Examiner and now I know why.


So what your saying is that cops are above the law basically. And that if they decide to kill you you can’t defend yourself and to let the courts handle it after the fact…

I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to fear cops if I’ve done nothing wrong or am attempting to prevent them from doing something wrong…

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No, LEOs aren’t above the law. They can be arrested, tried, and convicted just like anyone else. The officer in Minneapolis has been arrested and charged with murder, for example. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to try to arrest an officer. I wouldn’t recommend trying to arrest a drunk NFL player, either, but that doesn’t mean they’re above the law.

If you have reasonable fear that an officer is threatening your life, you can certainly defend yourself. But the best defense isn’t always a gun. Sometimes it’s a camera or a cell phone. The best (least worst) response will depend on the scenario.


So in other words watch them kill someone and file a complaint later so they can investigate it themselves… Gotcha

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Unfortunately, it seems in this day and age, sometimes the most powerful weapon one has is a camera. I’m sure not going to interfere with law enforcement, because in my mind, it’s a lose/lose. No matter how bad the actions of an officer, there will always be another one to back him/her up in that their actions are justified. Jail or death seem to be the consequences of interference. However, when an event like the recent one happens, the last thing I’d do is terrorize the neighborhood and punish fellow citizens for someone else’s for one person’s wrongdoing. Speaking out against crime and violence by committing crime and violence makes no sense to me. To me peaceful protests such as the one held in Houston carry more weight and pull more support to a cause…


It’s not that LEO are ABOVE the Law, they ARE the Law. In the performance of their duties they are entrusted with significant powers which can be abused.

To the detriment of all I think Mr. Floyd’s medical conditions possible intoxicants and the excitement (pick another term but same same) of being arrested had significantly more to do with his death than the knee on the neck. Where I think the officer failed was when Mr. Floyd went quiet and the officer just maintained position and did not seek to understand why. If he was having a cardiac event there is quite literally nothing that could have been done as I gather there was a pulse at the scene and Mr. Floyd expired later. It does not correct the optics of the situation and I fear the officer has a fair good chance of being found not guilty. THAT will cause some serious issues.




If you saw four gang members beating someone to death, you might decide with good reasons not to directly intervene. That doesn’t mean they’re above the law. That’s the phrase you used that I disagree with. You should give pause before intervening in a police action, but that doesn’t mean they’re above the law.