1, January 2017
A Republican lawmaker and major gun advocate has been arrested over beating his wife and threatening to kill her with a gun as his young children beg him to stop. Police authorities in the state of South Carolina’s Aiken Country released audio recording of an emergency 911 call on Friday from inside the home of state Representative Chris Corley, which is punctuated with screams of what the dispatcher believed were the lawmaker’s children “begging for their father to stop” beating their mother.
No one speaks during the call, the first of three relevant to the violent incident. All that can be heard are screams in the background. “Please stop,” is screamed repeatedly. “Just stop, daddy. Just stop. Why are you doing this, daddy?” Audio of the call was released by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office just days after the 36-year-old legislator was arrested on charges of domestic violence and pointing a gun at his wife.
The operator in the initial call was clearly shaken and contacts the Aiken County 911 operator in a bid to send police officers to Corley’s home in the city of Graniteville. “I had a caller, sounded a lot like children screaming for help and begging for their father to stop,” said the operator. The call ends with the county operator saying she will dispatch officers to the house.
However, Sheriff’s deputies would later get a follow-up phone call from a different woman, who is not identified but presumably is Corley’s mother-in-law. She is heard telling deputies that a man with a gun “beat his wife and he’s threatening to kill his self (sic).”
By this time, Corley’s wife and two of their children had fled across the street to her mother’s home. Corley was later arrested on charges that he punched his wife in the face and threatened to kill her as he pointed a 9 mm pistol at her during an argument at their home after she accused him of cheating, according to Aiken County sheriff’s records.
The lawmaker faces a felony charge of first-degree criminal domestic violence, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Corley’s 37-year-old wife told police officers later that the only thing that kept him from shooting her were the screams of two of their children, aged 2 and 8. The legislator then went into a bedroom, saying he “was going to kill himself,” his wife added as quoted in the police report on the incident, which noted that as Corley headed for the bedroom, his wife and children ran to her mother’s house across the street.
However, Aiken County Magistrate Melanie DuBose has released Corley, who is also a lawyer, but restricted him from handling any firearm, among other conditions of his $20,000 surety bond. The lawmaker was elected in 2014 as a gun advocate and sponsored a resolution declaring June 2015 “Gun Violence Awareness Month” to “raise awareness surrounding the issue of gun violence.”
Corley was little known as a legislator until he thrust himself into the national spotlight in 2015, when he suggested on the floor of the South Carolina House that removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds was equivalent to the state’s Republican Party surrendering to political correctness in the wake of the Charleston church shooting massacre, in which a white supremacist gunned down several African American worshippers.