Greenville, SC (FOX Carolina) - Greenville police said Tuesday afternoon that a driver who turned into the parking lot of Tanner's Big Orange during a protest outside the business will not face any charges.
Police said the incident happened at the restaurant along Pleasantburg Drive on June 8 while a protest was in progress.
On Tuesday, police showed several videos of the incident and stated that, despite earlier statements, no one was struck by the vehicle at the protest. However, police said numerous items were thrown on and into the vehicle, prompting two arrests for malicious damage for members of the crowd.
Police said the driver was turning in with the intention to purchase lunch and did not realize the restaurant was closed. Police said they found no evidence that the driver was not aware of any protests outside the business.
Police also showed photos of damage caused by rocks thrown onto the vehicle. Police said that damage was in excess of $2,000. The two charges filed were against suspects accused of causing the damage.
Previously, police arrested one man after they said surveillance footage showed him throwing objects at a vehicle that entered and attempted to leave the parking lot of the restaurant during the protest. Police said the second suspect had been notified of the malicious damage charge.
The protests at the restaurant stemmed from social media posts from owner John Zeller.
Zeller said he plans to make a public apology on Tuesday on talk radio 94.5 WGTK during Joey Hudson's show. Zeller said he will be joined on the radio with UA Thompson, Traci Fant, and others from the community.
Police cited South Carolina's Castle Doctrine law in their decision not to charge the driver, stating he had the right to defend his occupied vehicle from unwanted molestation by an outside force.
Below is the verbatim of the Castle Doctrine, also known as the Protections of Persons and Property Act:
Protection of Persons and Property Act
(A) It is the intent of the General Assembly to codify the common law Castle Doctrine which recognizes that a person's home is his castle and to extend the doctrine to include an occupied vehicle and the person's place of business.
(B) The General Assembly finds that it is proper for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others.
(C) The General Assembly finds that Section 20, Article I of the South Carolina Constitution guarantees the right of the people to bear arms, and this right shall not be infringed.
(D) The General Assembly finds that persons residing in or visiting this State have a right to expect to remain unmolested and safe within their homes, businesses, and vehicles.
(E) The General Assembly finds that no person or victim of crime should be required to surrender his personal safety to a criminal, nor should a person or victim be required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack.
Activist Bruce Wilson spoke at the conclusion of the press conference. Wilson said he feels the investigation would have been handled much differently if the races of the people involved would have been reversed. Wilson said he is calling for a SLED investigation of Greenville police's investigative process.