PICKENS COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA — The Solicitor’s Office that covers Pickens County has ruled that a homeowner will not be charged with any criminal wrongdoing in relation to the deadly shooting of an intruder.
The Solicitor’s Office said in a statement that, “the homeowner has statutory immunity from prosecution under the Protection of Persons and Property Act as set forth in the SC statutory and case law.”
The original incident occurred in mid-December. The homeowner testified that he returned home at approximately 8 a.m. and saw that his house showed signs that it had been broken into. When he entered the premises, he found Justin Smith, 27, holding possessions of his — including several firearms. A brief struggle ensued. The homeowner got custody of one of the firearms and repeatedly shot Smith, who then attempted to flee. Smith collapsed. When deputies arrived, they took him to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Law enforcement investigating the scene say that the homeowner’s description of events matched visible signs of forced entry. Areas of the house were visibly rummaged through.
h/t WYFF News
We usually bring up issues not just involving a home invasion or the homeowner’s handling of a gun but also the legal process that must happen during the investigative process. In cases such as this one, the deputies found little discrepancy between what they were told and what they saw. Their reports then go up to a District Attorney’s office or Solicitor’s office depending upon how the state structures its legal system.
The more incongruous the story is from the scene or if details are obviously lacking or if there were interpersonal matters that may have precipitated the event, the more law enforcement will tend to look into the matter. This also could mean a lengthier investigation.
In states that acknowledge a homeowner’s right to protect himself and his property, so long as everything matches up, there shouldn’t be a problem.
When a defensive gun use event happens outside of the home, there are a lot more factors for law enforcement to consider. This usually equates in a longer investigation.
Evidence such as video surveillance, eyewitness testimony, having the proper permit (where applicable) can significantly help or hurt a concealed carrier or gun owner. The basic premise that the legal authorities will look at is whether there is a case to prove criminal wrongdoing.
This guy did the best he could considering the circumstances. It’s rough coming home to find someone has broken into your home and potentially stolen your stuff. Even more troubling is the dangerous possibility that the person is still inside your home.
This homeowner felt compelled to investigate. You don’t necessarily have to. If you think someone has broken into your home, you can call police and wait for them to arrive before investigating. It’s an added measure of safety. Is there the possibility that the intruder will flee the scene before the police arrive or attempt to hurt you? Absolutely. But it’s virtually guaranteed that some sort of altercation will take place if you walk in and the intruder is in the middle of sacking the joint.
As a gun owner, if my firearms are unsecured while I am out of the house, I will have every reason to believe that an intruder would be able to access them and use them against me. As a concealed carrier, that’s why I believe so heavily in locking up firearms that I am not actively carrying on me. It’s added step to protect myself if the worst should befall my home while I’m away. It’s also an added step to ensure my own guns are not used against me if I should walk into my home and an intruder is already there.