On Wednesday, a South Carolina judge granted immunity from prosecution to a man who shot and killed an innocent bystander during a botched confrontation with a group of teenagers. The judge relied on the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.
Seventeen-year-old Darrell Niles was in his car, minding his own business back in 2010 when 33-year-old Shannon Anthony Scott shot and killed him.
Earlier that day, a group of girls had followed and threatened Scott’s 15-year-old daughter. They later drove past Scott’s house in an SUV. But when Scott walked out of his house with a handgun to confront the “women thugs,” as he described them, he instead fired straight into the 1992 Honda of Darrell Niles, who was unarmed. Niles was killed instantly.
Some questions remain in the case: The group of girls may have fired shots first, but testimony is conflicted on if shots were fired at Scott himself, or at all. There is also some indication that Scott was primed to shoot his gun at someone: Even prior to the shooting, he had a sign in his window that read, “Fight Crime — Shoot First,” according to a 5th Circuit Assistant Solicitor.
Despite the defense’s evidence that Scott had no proof the young man was an “imminent threat,” Scott’s attorney — who, oddly enough, is state Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-SC) — argued that if Scott hadn’t shot Niles, he would have had to go back to his home and “hope that the cavalry (police) are going to come.”
“All that matters is that Mr. Scott felt his life was in jeopardy,” Rutherford said.
On Wednesday, Circuit Judge Maite Murphy accepted those arguments and ruled that Scott believed he was aiming for the group that had threatened his daughter, and therefore was protected under South Carolina’s 2006 Stand Your Ground law.
Darrell Niles’s mother was devastated by the order. “It’s not right; it’s not right,” she told a local TV station, saying she fears her son will be vilified in death and seen as one of those threatening Scott’s daughter. “The truth needs to be out there.”
The order has been appealed by Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson.