Stand Your Ground law used in Horry County shooting

The law that allowed the owner of Longbeard's Bar and Grill in Carolina Forest to defend himself during an altercation with an employee Tuesday is similar to the one that's caused controversy in a Florida murder case.

Florida's Stand Your Ground law has played a central role in the defense of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

South Carolina's law is known as the Castle Doctrine, based on the notion that your home is your castle and you have the right to defend it. Though the name is different, Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says South Carolina's law is nearly the same law as Florida's.

Richardson says under the law, if you believe you're in imminent danger of death or serious injury, you're within your rights to use whatever means necessary to avoid it.

"You don't have to get cut, you don't have to get shot, you don't even have to get beat up. If you were without fault in bringing on the conflict, you can certainly defend yourself," said Richardson.

In Tuesday's shooting at Longbeard's, Richardson says several witnesses confirmed the owner was threatened with a knife and acted in self defense, making it an easier call for police.

Longbeard's owner declined to comment to WPDE NewsChannel 15.

Richardson says some people believe if you're threatened with a knife, you have to respond with a knife, but that's not true.

"If you have a gun, you can defend yourself with a gun. If all you've got is a pool stick, you can defend yourself with that. Whatever you can have at your discretion, then you can use that to defend yourself."

Richardson says the law is based on the idea of fight or flight. You're cornered, and you or someone else will get hurt if you don't act.

"That doctrine has been expanded to cover a business or your car or anything like that, where you don't have a duty to retreat," he said.

Richardson says if new facts or evidence come out, Horry County police can still go back and charge Longbeard's owner. At this point, the solicitor says the police did a good job handling the case and made the right call.