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SC Grants ‘Stand Your Ground’ Immunity To Man Who Shot At Teen Girls And Killed A Black Bystander

Darrell Andre Niles, 17, was killed in April 2010 by Shannon Anthony Scott.

Darrell Andre Niles, 17, was killed in April 2010 by Shannon Anthony Scott. (Facebook)

In 2010, Shannon Anthony Scott, then 33, was arrested for the murder of 17-year-old Darrell Andre Niles, an unarmed black teen who was found shot to death in his car around 2:30 am on April 18 of that year.

However, Richland County Judge Maite Murphy has thrown out those charges, ruling on Wednesday that Scott reasonably believed his life was in danger and is therefore immune from prosecution by the state’s 2006 Protection of Persons and Property ACT, South Carolina’s version of “Stand Your Ground”, a law that gives private citizens the right to use deadly force whenever and wherever they feel threatened.

A Dangerous Legal Precedent

Scott, who had intended to shoot at a car full of teen girls on the street outside his home (I address this absurdity further down), says he shot Niles, who was also parked outside, by mistake.

ShannonAnthonyScott

Shannon Anthony Scott (WISTV)

That the victim was an innocent bystander rather than one of the alleged “aggressors” sets a new precedent for the application of Stand Your Ground, which can now shield people who are bad shots and accidentally shoot a bystander, from prosecution.

As 5th Circuit Assistant Solicitor April Sampson warned over the summer, a decision in favor of Scott marks “the first time any state in this Union” has awarded Stand Your Ground immunity in the killing of an innocent bystander.

“If this law were to be applied the way (Scott) wants to apply it, he could shoot a 4-year-old playing in her front yard and still be immune from prosecution,” she said, adding that it would transform South Carolina into “the Wild, Wild West.”

One Absurd Argument After Another

Scott’s attorney, Democratic State Rep. Todd Rutherford who voted for the 2006 law, argued in an August hearing that Scott was simply protecting his teenage daughter and her girlfriends from an SUV full of teen girls—or as he referred to them, “women thugs”—who had followed them home that night. That’s right, Scott, a grown man, felt that an intimidating group of teenage girls warranted firing gunshots into the night.

Rutherford’s defense of Scott’s behavior, as reported by The State, spiraled into further ridiculousness with each passing argument, which I’ll address one by one.

On their way home, his daughter telephoned Scott to tell him they were being followed. He met them outside and told them to go and lie down on the kitchen floor while he went outside with a pistol.

It is unreasonable to expect that Scott is required “to go back into his house, in his castle … and hope that the cavalry (police) are going to come … . All that matters is that Mr. Scott felt his life was in jeopardy. We know that because everyone there felt their lives were in jeopardy,” Rutherford said.

Perhaps Scott’s daughter and Scott himself reasonably believed that a car full of teen girl bullies were a threat to their lives. Even so, since when is it acceptable for a parent to point their loaded gun at child bullies? The fact that Scott, an adult, felt immediately inclined to resolve a dispute between children by shooting at them is criminal.

Rutherford acknowledged that Niles was an innocent bystander, who in all probability was on the scene because he intended to help Scott’s daughter.

Does this mean Niles, the child whose life Scott stole, was a friend of his daughter?

The real villains in this case, Rutherford said, are the carload of teens that followed Scott’s daughter and her friends home from a club. They should be charged with “felony murder,” a charge that means that they caused Niles’ death, even though Scott was the one who put the bullet in his head, Rutherford said.

That is the same principle applied in cases in which a store owner who shoots and mistakenly kills a bystander during an armed robbery, Rutherford said. The store owner isn’t charged with the bystander’s murder, but the robber is, Rutherford said.

What exactly was the felony these “women thugs” had committed? Armed robbery and alleged bullying aren’t even close to the same thing. Still, it gets worse:

When someone like Scott, in fear for his life, shoots his gun, “they cannot be expected to shoot straight always because they are not supposed to have their life in jeopardy,” Rutherford said.

To suggest that private citizens armed with the capacity to end people’s lives at the pull of a trigger are excused from prosecution for murder simply because it’s beyond their capacity to aim properly is absurd. Even more disturbing is what Rutherford is implying, that if Scott had successfully struck his intended targets (teenage girls) instead of Niles, he would have been fully in his right to do so. Why? Because:

Scott was fearful of a drive-by at the time he fired his gun at Niles’ 1992 Honda, and he was “faced with what he thought was an imminent threat” from Niles’ car, Rutherford said.

Scott Waited 4 Days To Tell Police He Shot Niles

The State reports “Rutherford presented witnesses who said someone fired a shot at Scott before he fired.” However, police say that based on the statements they took from witnesses on the scene the night of the shooting, it was Scott who fired first and it’s unclear whether anyone even fired back at Scott.

On top of that, Scott did not give police his name that night and failed to tell them he had fired his gun. It wasn’t until four days after he killed Niles that Scott turned himself in.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a man who, according Sampson, “had a sign in his window saying ‘Fight Crime – Shoot First.’”

Nevertheless, Judge Murphy sided with Scott. “I hearby conclude that the Defendant is entitled to the grant of immunity under the Act because he and his family were clearly under attack,” she wrote in a 12-page order filed Wednesday afternoon. “The Legislature clearly did not intend for any father to stand idly by as his family lay on the kitchen floor in fear of being shot and killed.”

Solicitor Dan Johnson has since appealed Murphy’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The Race Factor

I am curious about and currently looking into the racial makeup of the girls who allegedly followed Scott’s daughter home, particularly given the racially loaded terms used by Rutherford to describe them (i.e. “women thugs” who Scott feared were planning to commit a “drive-by”). This is, of course, pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott, a seemingly white man, feared these teens because they were nonwhite and therefore considered inherently violent.

On a side note, I realize Scott doesn’t necessarily look white, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t benefit from white supremacy/privilege that our criminal justice system was built on, especially given that his victim was a young black male.

The problem with a law like Stand Your Ground is that it excuses and encourages deadly force against “perceived” threats. In the United States, where implicit and structural racism persists on a vast scale, is it wise to empower people who almost certainly have irrational and racist fears, to kill instead of call police who are trained (at least they’re supposed to be) to deal with potential threats?

Race also appears to play a significant role in whether a homicide is deemed justifiable. A recent study conducted by John Roman of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center found, “the odds that a white-on-black homicide is ruled to have been justified is more than 11 times the odds a black-on-white shooting is ruled justified,” a reflection of the racial disparities that plague all aspects of the US criminal justice system.

More People Invoking Stand Your Ground

Meanwhile, The State reported over the summer, just one month after George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict, that the invocation of South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground law is on the rise.

In the past six weeks, two other Richland County murder trials have been delayed indefinitely because defendants – both of whom have admitted killing their victims – have raised the immunity defense and their cases are now on appeal. They are:

•  James Bethel Jr., charged with murder in the Aug. 18, 2012, shooting death of Gawayne Franklin at Mr. Lucky’s club on Broad River Road

•  Greg Isaac, charged with murder in the 2005 shooting death of Antonio Corbitt after breaking into Corbitt’s apartment at 3200 Fernandina Road. Isaac said he was threatened by his fellow burglar with death if he didn’t go along with the crime. And he said Corbitt was attacking him.

According to the S.C. Supreme Court’s clerk’s office, nine of the 23 criminal cases now before the Supreme Court involve appeals from Stand Your Ground hearings.

Those nine immunity cases come from across the state.

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23 Comments
  1. re: “…that Scott reasonably believed his life was in danger and is therefore immune from prosecution by the state’s 2006 Protection of Persons and Property ACT, South Carolina’s version of “Stand Your Ground”, a law that gives private citizens the right to use deadly force whenever and wherever they feel threatened.”

    1) There should be a reasonable assumption of being threatened.

    2) There should be a reasonable assumption that the situation is life threatening.

    3) The defendant shouldn’t be the aggressor. Retreating, not retreating and pursuing the supposed attacker are three different things.

    4) Does it pass the police test? i.e. If it were a police officer rather than a civilian, would it have been a reasonable use of deadly force.

    What is happening to this country where everyone’s a warrior?

    Kerry

    “War is the precursor to tyranny and the tyranny a state imposes on others will ultimately be imposed on itself.”

    October 10, 2013
  2. Reblogged this on byebyedemocracy.

    October 10, 2013
  3. It is unreasonable to expect that Scott is required
    “to go back into his house, in his castle … and hope
    that the cavalry (police) are going to come… All
    that matters is that Mr. Scott felt his life was in
    jeopardy. We know that because everyone there felt
    their lives were in jeopardy,” Rutherford said.

    I wonder if Rutherford is helping with the defense of Marissa Alexander. http://justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/

    October 11, 2013
  4. David Scott #

    You conveniently left out the part where the occupants in the car fired shots on the house, giving cause to the idea that 4 young (armed) women can cause a threat to grown man. That no one would have died, if the 4 young women had not either; a) Chase Scotts daughter home, or b) not fired at Scotts home. Also, ‘Stand Your Ground” was never invoked. This is a rather simple self-defense case that lays the blame for the innocent death squarely on the shoulders of the women that cause the incident.

    http://www.wistv.com/story/23657955/judge-man-who-shot-teen-thought-he-was-in-danger

    Also hate monger more please.

    October 11, 2013
    • Actually, whether or not anyone shot at Scott is contentious at best.

      As I mentioned in my post, police statements by witnesses the night of the incident suggest it was it was Scott who fired first and it remains unclear whether anyone even fired back.

      October 11, 2013
      • Ehdrian #

        I believe this is a complicated subject for sure, but your article is one sided to the extreme. Even after a judge disagrees with you, you make it seem like their decision was crazy or something.

        The only time you mention *why* he felt threatened was right after an anti capital punishment paragraph and then another time during a possible racism plot.

        This makes it difficult to debate an issue LOL especially when a post makes you think that if you disagree, then you might be a racist or in favor of capital punishment from vigilantes.

        On another note.

        I’d rather read a blog that gives the reasoning for both sides, not just rants hidden under good writing. If I wanted that I could just scroll the wall on my Facebook and read what all my friends have to say about stuff like this.

        It really did read like a long winded Facebook post from a person who rages at things they can’t control….. Just saying.

        So I would agree that this post was a little less informative than it was preachy. :)

        October 12, 2013
    • Michelle #

      If you read the article that you linked to you would see that there isn’t clear evidence of who shot first.

      “I think this judge’s decision is strong,” said Rutherford. “I think again the mistake was made in not arresting those female thugs who were going to do the drive-by.” Attorney says “who were GOING to.” NOT “who did the drive-by.” So this statement should tell you that the attorney didn’t watch his words careful enough. The truth is right there.

      You must be a relative or a close friend to flat out deny what was clearly written in the article and then call the author of this article a hate monger..

      October 11, 2013
      • “If you read the article that you linked to you would see that there isn’t clear evidence of who shot first.”

        Perhaps. But if I read your post and hadn’t read the comments I wouldn’t have known that there was ANY evidence that anyone except the person you cite here had fired a gun. It makes a difference, as it introduces reasonable doubt.

        October 28, 2013
    • Oh goodie, another crazy thread to follow.

      October 11, 2013
    • name #

      The only way to stop gun violence is to increase gun violence.

      If he was “protecting his family” he would be in a defensive position “PROTECTING,” he was in an offensive position exacting “justice” upon those who would dare shoot at him. “Bystanders” don’t matter, even though the idea of shooting at a car is utterly reckless.

      Or maybe this helps drive it home? A man steals a woman’s purse in a mall, another man pulls out a gun and begins shooting randomly until he manages to hit the guy who stole the purse. The “casualties” were just “in the way of justice.”

      The instant you choose to use deadly force, you are responsible for every casualty you create and should be held under the maximum punishment of the law.

      October 20, 2013
      • Interestingly, the person who shot first (say the bad guy with a gun) is legally responsible for all innocent victims shot by the vigilante (say the good guy with a gun). I learned that from a comment to a different post on this site.

        Re: “The instant you choose to use deadly force, you are responsible for every casualty you create and should be held under the maximum punishment of the law.”

        That’s what our government calls, “collateral damage” when applied to drone victims.

        October 20, 2013
  5. Gerrie #

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me–
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    “When Hitler attacked the Jews
    I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
    And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,
    I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
    And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists,
    I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.
    Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church —
    and there was nobody left to be concerned.”

    Martin Niemoller

    Martin Niemoller was a decorated u-boat captain in the First World War but subsequently became a minister of religion and a relatively high profile opponent of the Nazis as they increasingly gained firm hold of the reins to power in Germany.

    October 12, 2013
  6. gah #

    One obvious black guy shoots another black guy, and you try to turn it into a racial conflict, what a crock.

    October 14, 2013
  7. JimRed #

    A sad state of affairs that an innocent young man was killed. But…

    “On a side note, I realize Scott doesn’t necessarily look white, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t benefit from white supremacy/privilege that our criminal justice system was built on, especially given that his victim was a young black male.”

    “The problem with a law like Stand Your Ground is that it excuses and encourages deadly force against “perceived” threats.”

    The problem with a substantial portion of American culture is that it excuses and encourages violent response to “perceived” racism, where mostly none is involved.

    October 14, 2013
  8. According to data collected by the FBI, Blacks are responsible for 64% of the VIOLENT CRIME in the USA; however, Blacks are only 13% of the population in the USA. It is LOGICAL to associate Blacks with crime.

    October 14, 2013
    • Johnathan #

      Using your logic, since men are responsible for 90% of all pedophile crimes, all men should LOGICALLY be associated with this crime? Now, stop parrotting and think for yourself.

      October 14, 2013
    • the data to which you refer is arrest, charging, conviction, and incarceration data . white men aren’t arrested in the first place … there is no inclusion of crimes which are not prosecuted

      October 19, 2013
    • name #

      To which 0.64 * 0.13 says that only 0.0832 blacks actually are criminals.

      October 20, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. South Carolina Man Gets Off Thanks To ‘Stand Your Ground’ After Shooting And Killing Innocent Bystander
  2. Thanks to South Carolina ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law, Man Gets off After Shooting and Killing Innocent Bystander — The Good Men Project
  3. Dallas Clarke's Judicial Watch » South Carolina Man Gets off Thanks to ‘Stand Your Ground’ After Shooting and Killing Innocent Bystander
  4. South Carolina Man Gets off Thanks to ‘Stand Your Ground’ After Shooting and Killing Innocent Bystander
  5. Black Detroit Woman Shot To Death While Seeking Help In White Neighborhood After Car Crash | Dispatches from the Underclass

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