A man licensed by the state of South Carolina to carry a weapon and defend himself faces the threat of a lawsuit by the family members of an armed teen he shot and killed who was trying to rob a restaurant.
The robber’s family alleges Justin Harrison should have been trained better, and they may even pursue legal action against him for shooting and killing Dante Williams, 19, who was trying to rob a Waffle House in Chesnee, South Carolina, in 2012.
The case again is in the news because authorities recently released a video of the attempted armed robbery.
Fox affiliate WHNS-TV in Greenville, South Carolina, posted the video online and reported that Williams’ family members admit the teen was in the Waffle House to rob it.
Authorities say Harrison, who was in the restaurant, fired several times at Williams, killing him.
Williams’ accomplice, Jawan Craig, was caught later, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Harrison recalled that when the robbers entered the restaurant, he didn’t follow the instincts of the crowd.
“They’re yelling ‘everybody get down, get down,’ and I’m not getting on the floor. I am not going to be a victim,” he said.
The attackers, according to Harrison, terrorized other customers, and then, suddenly, “He was approaching me and I saw that as him engaging me.”
Harrison stood up and fired several shots at Williams, killing him almost instantly.
Harrison then tried to hold Craig at gunpoint, but Craig grabbed at his gun and then escaped.
There’s no question that Harrison handled the situation correctly, said David Blanton, a former Spartanburg County deputy who was Harrison’s weapons instructor.
“Not only was he defending his own life, which the law says he can do, but there were other people in the restaurant,” Blanton told the WHNS.
In South Carolina, permit holders are required to apply, take an eight-hour course, pass a written exam and complete a live-fire qualification.
But the station said Tamika McSwain, Williams’ cousin, claimed that Harrison needed more training, and if he had had that, he might not have fired the fatal shots.
“I understand he felt threatened by the situation,” McSwain told the station. “But he said the gun was pointed at him so he fired. In fact [Williams] was walking out.”
She said her cousin was “always sharp, always goofy, loved to dance, he was a respectable boy.”
She told the station her family was disappointed Harrison was cleared by police investigators and faced no charges. But the family still might pursue legal action.