Closer look at North Carolina's Stand Your Ground Law after new national shootings

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Closer look at NC's Stand Your Ground Law following new cases
North Carolina is one of nearly 30 states that has a Stand Your Ground Law and it extends to public places.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's the latest case that has gripped the nation. A white Kansas City man is claiming he feared for his life when a 16-year-old black teen mistakenly appeared on his doorstep.

Police say 84-year-old Andrew Lester shot Ralph Yarl twice after he rang the doorbell at the wrong home while attempting to pick up his twin brothers. The shots came from behind a glass door.

"If those facts were presented in North Carolina, that would not justify the Stand Your Ground aspect of self-defense," said Irv Joyner, a North Carolina Central University Professor.

North Carolina is one of nearly 30 states that has a Stand Your Ground Law and it extends to public places.

Joyner said there's a lot of misunderstanding about the law. "Stand your ground is a part of the self-defense, where a person reasonably believes that they are in serious danger of bodily injury or death," he explained.

"And in that situation, if the person is out in the public, then that person is able to use fatal force to defend themselves against fatal force. It does not mean that the person is able to use fatal force, just because they are in fear," Joyner continued.

In the case of Lester and Yarl, Professor Joyner said the imminent danger component is missing.

RELATED | 84-year-old homeowner accused of shooting Ralph Yarl pleads not guilty

"You have a whole door separating you from the person, and that person has done no more than ring the bell, the reasonable person would not feel under those circumstances that they were in imminent danger of anything."

In North Carolina, the Stand Your Ground Law removes the duty to retreat before using deadly force.

Florida was one of the first states to enact a Stand Your Ground Law back in 2005, but it was thrust into the national spotlight following the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman.

Defense Attorney Asi Jackson with the Jackson Law Center sat down with ABC11 and explained the other side of the law, from the person who is presenting the alleged threat.

RELATED | New York woman driven to wrong address fatally shot by homeowner

"That person then can rebut that presumption by saying, hey, you know, I gave up on the fight, I was trying to get away and leave, you know, so at that point, then you don't have a right to run after them and stab them or either shoot them in the back when they're on the way out," explained Jackson.

A recent JAMA study found that Stand Your Ground laws are linked to an 11% increase in firearm-related homicides.

The study looked at data from 41 different states including North Carolina.


SEE ALSO | Man who fatally shot woman in his driveway has shown 'no remorse,' sheriff says

Ralph Yarl shooting suspect posts bond, released from custody: Sheriff's office

WATCH | Men charged in 2 different states with shooting people who mistakenly went to wrong house

A Missouri teen is recovering after being shot by a homeowner after he mistakenly went to the wrong house. A 20-year-old in NY died after being shot when a friend went to the wrong house and homeowner shot into their car.

Can a doorbell ring justify a 'stand your ground' shooting? Law could play in Ralph Yarl case