The local case involving Julian Betton being shot by police 29 times after entering his home has garnered national attention for its use of police force and the Drug Enforcement Unit's seemingly ongoing habit of entering residences without first knocking.
Recently, the Washington Post wrote an extensive story about a report by a federal magistrate related to Betton's civil case over the shooting. The story runs under The Watch blog of the Post's opinion section.
"What happened to Julian Betton is an entirely predictable product of the failures, culture and mindset of the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit. And yet to date, state officials won’t even concede that this was a bad outcome, much less do anything to prevent it from happening again," The Washington Post story reads.
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.
Betton's attorney Jonny 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 the officers; and, state law claims of civil conspiracy against all defendants except 15th Circuit solicitor Jimmy 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.
Recently, Betton settled with Bill Knowles, commander of the DEU; Richardson, who oversees the DEU; and, DEU drug agents Dean Bishop, Chad Guess, Frank Waddell, Chris Dennis for $2.75 million. His civil case against Myrtle Beach and David BeLue continued.
As part of that civil suit, a federal magistrate wrote in a report that local DEU agents had a "widespread and persistent" policy of not knocking, announcing or waiting a reasonable time before executing search warrants, a measure required by the Fourth Amendment.
The report noted that Guess, Waddell, Bishop and BeLue gave conflicting testimonies stating there was a knock. But, a video from a porch camera seems to show officers approaching the multi-family home, opening a screen door before taking a battering ram to an inner door. Once inside, police say Betton pulled a gun and that is when they shot him. The video does not show the scene inside the house.
BeLue also stated that he saw Betton fire his gun, despite lab testing showing later he did not.
The officers did not face criminal charges in connection to the case.