LONDON: The US state of Texas is reeling from the deadly shooting of a Moroccan man who was killed after allegedly pulling into the wrong driveway.
The killing has highlighted the potential pitfalls of controversial laws that allow homeowners to kill those who come onto their property.
Adil Dghoughi, 31, was shot dead earlier this month by homeowner Terry Turner, who has been charged with murder.
Dghoughi, who arrived in the US in 2013 to study, had been attending a barbecue with his partner.
On the way back, he is said to have stopped and pulled over in Turner’s neighborhood. Dghoughi is believed to have stopped there to look for directions.
According to an affidavit provided to a Texas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Turner woke at 3:30 a.m. to use the bathroom and noticed Dghoughi’s car parked in his driveway.
Documents say Turner retrieved his gun, and when he came outside, the car Dghoughi was driving had its headlights on and was reversing out of the driveway.
Turner shot through the car window as he was leaving, and the bullet hit Dghoughi’s hand and head. Turner then called emergency services and said: “I just killed a guy.”
He claimed Dghoughi aimed a gun at him, but no gun was found. Dghoughi’s family and lawyer say he posed no threat.
Turner’s lawyers say they will defend their client on the basis of Texas laws that allow homeowners to use deadly force against trespassers on their property if they are seen as an immediate danger.
Those laws have previously stirred controversy, most notably in the case of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager shot dead in public by George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges after claiming he felt threatened by Martin.
Critics of the law say it is used to cover for racist attacks and leads to unnecessary deaths.
Details of the Texas killing have shocked many among the public and forced an evaluation of the stand-your-ground laws.
Faizan Syed, a spokesperson for CAIR, said: “We believe the death of Adil is murder, plain and simple. Terry Turner should have been arrested the same day he shot and killed Adil.”
Syed added: “It’s a disgrace to this country and to our legal system that it took 14 days almost, along with calls to the Department of Justice, the Texas Rangers and other agencies, before the police department did their very minimal job of finding, arresting, and charging Terry Turner.”
Sandra Guerra Thompson, a law professor at the University of Houston, told The Guardian: “The law will presume the use of force was immediately necessary if the other person forcibly entered a person’s occupied habitation or vehicle.
“It requires you to have evidence that the individual who was killed was in the process of committing some kind of crime. If there isn’t any evidence of any kind of criminality, (self) defense just doesn’t apply.”
Thompson added: “It’s customary to drive into people’s driveways without it being considered trespass … There are other reasonable steps a concerned homeowner could take, like calling the police.”
Dghoughi’s family is arranging for his burial in Morocco.