Upstate Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SC’s “Stand Your Ground” L - WSPA.com

Upstate Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SC’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

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Rep. Harold Mitchell announces his bill to repeal "Stand Your Ground." Rep. Harold Mitchell announces his bill to repeal "Stand Your Ground."
COLUMBA, S.C. - Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, announced Thursday he’s sponsoring a bill to repeal the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows anyone to defend themselves with deadly force, wherever they’re legally allowed to be, if they have reasonable fear of imminent death. Before the law was passed in 2006, people had a legal right to defend themselves in their homes or cars, but had a duty to retreat in other places.

"I think anytime that the government tells someone that they don't have a duty to walk away, but to confront force with deadly force and take innocent lives, that's a problem," he says.

He says one example is 17-year-old Darrell Niles, an innocent bystander who was shot and killed in 2010 in Columbia.

Niles had been at a teen club. His mother, Deatra, says he had followed a girl home to make sure she got home safely because others at the club had threatened the girl. When the girl got home, according to testimony in the case, she told her father about the threats and an SUV drove by their house and someone inside the SUV fired shots.

The girl’s father got his handgun and went outside and fired, striking Niles, who was in a different car across the street. A judge ruled that the father had immunity from prosecution under the Stand Your Ground law.

The father’s lawyer was Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia. He says the law is working the way it should.

"Stand Your Ground only gives you the right to a pre-hearing, where you're allowed to say to a judge, 'Judge, this is what I did.' If the judge agrees with you, by a preponderance of the evidence, then he can grant you immunity from prosecution. I don't see what's wrong with that," he says.

Deatra Niles sees a lot wrong with it. "He just walked away,” she says of the man who killed her son. “The law needs to go before it happens to another family."

Mitchell’s bill faces opposition.  Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, a co-sponsor of the Stand Your Ground law, says, "I think Stand Your Ground is working. I think it's working very well, and I don't see a need to repeal it at all."

A similar bill, sponsored by Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, failed two years ago.

Mitchell’s bill, called the “Reasonable Protection of Persons and Property Act,” would take state law back to where it was before the Stand Your Ground law was passed in 2006. People would still have the right to defend themselves in their homes, occupied vehicles, and businesses. But they would not be ble to use deadly force if threatened on a public street or somewhere else if they could retreat.

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