A shooting in a Columbia neighborhood four years ago is being pushed by “Stand Your Ground” opponents as evidence that South Carolina’s self-defense protections go too far.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus — a coalition of African-American Democrats in the state House and Senate – introduced legislation this week that would scale back the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. In 2006, state legislators approved the law, which grants legal protection for a person who uses deadly force on an assailant while away from their home. The law states that an individual “in a place where he has a right to be” can use deadly force “if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself.” The intention was to clarify a person does not have an obligation to “retreat” from a serious threat.
A ruling by a state court judge last year has spurred opponents again eight years later. In October, Circuit Judge Maite’ Murphy ruled that Shannon Anthony Scott, 33, was immune from prosecution after he fatally shot Darrell Niles, 17, outside his Columbia home in 2010. In that case, Scott’s attorneys argued the homeowner had just been the victim of a drive-by shooting by high school girls threatening his daughter. According to court documents, Scott stepped out into his yard and returned fire.
But the bullets hit a second car, killing Niles. Investigators said Niles was unarmed and there is no evidence the teen had threatened Scott’s daughter. He had instead followed the other car to the house.