Federal Magistrate Judge rules for Patterson Harkavy’s client in police shooting lawsuit motion

Yesterday, Federal Magistrate Judge Kaymani West issued a Report and Recommendation in favor of Julian Betton’s claims based on a 2015 police shooting.  Police officers on a drug task force shot Mr. Betton nine times in his home while executing a raid.  The shooting left Mr. Betton in a coma for six weeks; he is now paralyzed from the waist down.

After the incident, officers who participated in the raid claimed that before ramming down Mr. Betton’s door, they knocked and waited for him to respond, as required by the Fourth Amendment.  Footage from a security camera revealed their statements to be false.  After the  incident, the three shooters also claimed they only shot Mr. Betton after he fired a weapon at them.  South Carolina state crime lab analysis revealed those statements to be false as well: Mr. Betton never fired a weapon.

Patterson Harkavy sued on behalf of Mr. Betton, alleging that the officers used excessive force and violated the Fourth Amendment’s “knock and announce” requirement.  Earlier this year, Mr. Betton obtained a $2.75 million settlement from some defendants.  One of the shooters on the task force, and the City of Myrtle Beach, did not join the settlement.  Instead, they filed a motion for summary judgment, attempting to prevent Mr. Betton’s suit against them.

Yesterday, the federal magistrate judge assigned to that motion sided with Mr. Betton.  Denying the City of Myrtle Beach’s request, she recognized that Betton had produced evidence demonstrating that local officers had a “widespread and persistent policy of executing search warrants without knocking and announcing and waiting a reasonable time before entering a private residence.”

Click here to review the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation.  The order has received coverage in the Myrtle Beach Sun News.