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Man shot and paralyzed by the cops in Myrtle Beach settles case against drug unit

The man shot nine times by drug agents settled his civil suit with some of the defendants for $2.75 million, his attorneys said.

Julian Betton filed suit in 2015 over the shooting. The case against Bill Knowles, commander of the DEU; Jimmy Richardson, 15th Circuit solicitor, who oversees the DEU; and, DEU drug agents Dean Bishop, Chad Guess, Frank Waddell, Chris Dennis were all dismissed, according to federal court records.

The defendants that settled did not admit liability in the case, but chose to settle to avoid possible higher costs from a trial, said Jonny McCoy, one of Betton's attorneys.

The case against David BeLue and the City of Myrtle Beach remain, said Allison Argoe, another of Betton's attorneys.

"They have not taken responsibility for their actions," Argoe said.

The settlement won't cover the full cost of Betton's medical expenses, Argoe said. The shooting left him paralyzed and with other long-term health issues. McCoy said they believe Betton's past and future medical costs will be in the tens of millions of dollars.

He added that amount for medical costs is what they plan to seek from the other defendants that remain in the case.

Betton filed the suit against the city and officers saying they violated his Fourth Amendment rights during a raid in April 2015. Betton said surveillance video showed heavily armed agents storming his apartment without knocking on his door or announcing their presence. Officers told state investigators that they knocked on the door and announced themselves before entering.

McCoy said his client was shot nine times and officers fired a total of 29 rounds.

The suit was also filed on claims of excessive force and state law claims of excessive battery against the three officers who shot him; state law claims of assault and trespass against Guess, Waddell, Dennis and BeLue; and, state law claims of civil conspiracy against all defendants except Richardson.

Betton pleaded guilty to two drug-related counts and was sentenced to five years on each charge, but they were suspended for time served.

The hope is the settlement can send a message to agencies and officers about their actions, McCoy said.

"I hope that the settlement, and even lawsuits themselves, will make an entity such as the DEU think more carefully about their policies and procedures going forward," he said.

Richardson declined comment as the case is ongoing. The remaining parts of the case remain active in federal court. The trial is set for May, according to the latest scheduling order.

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