Yesterday, Patterson Harkavy filed suit on behalf of Julian Betton, a Myrtle Beach man shot nine times by local law enforcement officers in his own home. The shooting left Mr. Betton in a coma for six weeks; he is now permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
The complaint’s introduction begins:
- In early 2015, Defendant Chad Guess, a member of the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Task Force in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, twice gave a confidential informant $100 to purchase marijuana from Plaintiff Julian Ray Betton. On each occasion, the confidential informant reported that she used the money to purchase a small quantity of marijuana from Betton.
- Based on the confidential informant’s report, Defendant Guess obtained an arrest warrant for Betton and a search warrant for his apartment.
- The arrest warrant that Defendant Guess procured against Betton was for a Class F felony that is typically resolved in the 15th District by a fine or, at most, probation.
- Since moving to South Carolina in 2008, Betton had never been charged with any crime.
- Betton walked almost every day to a Scotchman store a quarter mile from his home. Armed with the arrest and search warrants, two law enforcement officers could have peacefully and safely arrested Betton on his way to or from the store, and then searched his apartment.
- Instead, on the afternoon of April 16, 2015, Defendants assembled a team of at least twelve heavily armed agents to execute the warrants. The agents wore street clothes and bulletproof vests. They wore no visible insignia identifying them as law enforcement officers. They stormed Betton’s home, ramming down his unlocked front door and entering without knocking or announcing themselves as law enforcement officers, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
- Betton was emerging from the bathroom when Defendants broke down his door and entered his apartment. When Betton stepped out of the bathroom, he saw three unidentified men carrying assault rifles in his living room. He did not know who the intruders were. Defendants opened fire only seconds after they entered the apartment. They shot at least 57 bullets, nine of which hit Betton.
- Betton’s extensive injuries left him in a coma for six weeks. Doctors removed portions of his gallbladder, colon, bowel, and rectum. They inserted a metal rod in his left leg. His spine was severely damaged, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
- After shooting and paralyzing Betton, Defendants tried to cover up their misconduct. They falsely claimed that they only entered Betton’s apartment after knocking, announcing, and waiting for a response, and that Betton shot at them first. Defendants’ lies were uncovered in an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division and through recordings from Betton’s surveillance system.
Patterson Harkavy attorneys Burton Craige, Narendra Ghosh, and Paul Smith represent Mr. Betton in his civil case, together with Myrtle Beach attorney Jonny McCoy. Mr. Betton’s lawsuit has been covered by the Myrtle Beach Sun News.