Derrick Grant (provided photo via the Post and Courier)

The North Charleston, S.C., Police Department has declined to pursue criminal charges against a man who went after and then fatally shot an unarmed 15-year-old boy in a car theft.

Derrick Grant was killed Jan. 17 by 24-year-old Quadarrel Lamont Morton, who claimed that the teen repeatedly reached into the stolen car, the Post and Courier reports. No weapon was retrieved from the 15-year-old’s body or from inside the vehicle, police spokesperson Spencer Pryor confirmed Monday.

Advertisement

Still, according to the police statement, detectives consulted with prosecutors and determined that it made no sense to prosecute the case.

“The death of [Derrick Grant] is a tragedy for his family and for this community,” the police said. “We have determined that this incident, however tragic, is not reasonably prosecutable under the law.”

As the Post and Courier notes, state law allows individuals to use deadly force “if they reasonably fear an imminent threat of serious injury,” even if it turns out that that was not the case.

Advertisement

And so the teen’s family is now struggling with their loss and trying to understand why Morton did not wait for police to arrive before engaging with him.

According to an attorney representing the family, Mark Peper, the police told them that Morton was within his rights to make a citizen’s arrest over the stolen vehicle.

According to Peper, no one witnessed enough of the incident to say what Derrick did during the confrontation, leaving Morton’s words as the main account of what happened.

Advertisement

“It’s tragic that this individual didn’t do what most citizens do: You call the police and wait,” he said. “You don’t pack heat and go out and hold the guy at gunpoint. That’s not sitting well with the family.”

The incident began Jan. 16 when Morton reported his girlfriend’s car stolen from outside a convenience store. The sedan showed up the very next morning, for some inexplicable reason, near the home where the couple live. Authorities have not been able to find a connection between Morton and Derrick.

At any rate, upon seeing he vehicle, Morton went outside with a gun. He reported that he saw someone get inside the car with a key, and asked the person to stop.

Advertisement

“He reached for something. I fired once,” Morton told a dispatcher. “I saw him reach again. I fired one more time.”

Derrick died at the scene.

Neighbors who heard the gunfire looked out and saw the resulting scene, but none can say exactly what happened.

Advertisement

“The only things we’re left with are the facts supplied to law enforcement, and if those facts are true, they say it’s justified,” Peper said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever know what truly happened.”