Spartanburg Waffle House shooting video released, sparks deb - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Spartanburg Waffle House shooting video released, sparks new debate

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Waffle House surveillance video (Source: 7th Circuit Solicitor's office, January 2012) Waffle House surveillance video (Source: 7th Circuit Solicitor's office, January 2012)
Dante WIlliams (Source: Williams' family) Dante WIlliams (Source: Williams' family)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Nineteen-year-old Dante Williams' family said there is no doubt he entered the Waffle House in Chesnee back in January of 2012 intent on robbing it, but they say he didn't have to die.

FOX Carolina obtained surveillance video from inside the Waffle House that investigators said shows Williams and his accomplice Jawan Craig come into the restaurant. Deputies said Williams is the one seen pointing a gun and demanding money.

Sitting at the bar area of the restaurant was Justin Harrison, a concealed weapon permit holder, who was armed the night of the robbery.

"They're yelling 'everybody get down, get down' and I'm not getting on the floor. I am not going to be a victim," Harrison said.

Harrison said while the men terrorized other customers and staff he was deciding when to act.

"This was the only time," Harrison said. "If I am going to fight it was that one time. He was approaching me and I  saw that as him engaging me."

The video shows Williams, gun by his side, walk back toward Harrison, who stands up and fires several shots killing Williams almost instantly.

The video then shows Harrison trying to hold Craig at gunpoint. But Craig tries grabbing Harrison's gun and after a struggle Craig escapes.

Deputies later caught up with Craig, and he has since been convicted in the robbery. Thanks in part to the surveillance video.

David Blanton, a former Spartanburg county deputy, was Harrison's CWP instructor and after reviewing the video he says Harrison followed his training and was justified in firing.

"Not only was he defending his own life, which the law says he can do, but there were other people in the restaurant," Blanton said.

According to Blanton, getting a CWP involves filling out an application, followed by an eight-hour course taught by a qualified instructor, a written exam, and finally a live-fire qualification.

Tamika McSwain is Williams' cousin and said more training is needed before someone is given a CWP. McSwain said the video contradicts statements made by Harrison about what happened the night of the robbery, and said if Harrison had been bettered trained he may not have fired the fatal shots.

"I understand he felt threatened by the situation," McSwain said. "But he said the gun was pointed at him so he fired. In fact he (Williams) was walking out."

McSwain admits that Williams made a terrible decision the night he died.

"It still puzzles us as to why he would do something so crazy," said McSwain.

Williams actions were out of character for the Dorman High School senior who his family said  had never been in trouble before.

"He was always sharp, always goofy, loved to dance, he was a respectable boy," McSwain said.

McSwain said her family was disappointed that Harrison wasn't charged in the shooting and says her family is still considering pursuing other legal action against him.

Both the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office and Seventh Circuit Solicitor's office cleared Harrison in the shooting.

But McSwain said her cousin's death shows that more training is need for CWP holders. Harrison meanwhile said the video shows he did what he had to.

"They got the gun, he (Williams) picked it up. He could have said no," Harrison said. "He hung out with the wrong crowd."

A judge sentenced Craig to 30 years in prison for his part in the robbery.

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