Today, Patterson Harkavy dismissed the remaining claims in Julian Betton’s lawsuit over a police shooting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after receiving an additional settlement of $8.5 million. Betton had previously settled with other defendants for $2.75 million, bringing his total recovery to $11.25 million.
On April 16, 2015, ten agents with the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit, under the authority of a standard knock-and-announce search warrant, converged on Betton’s residence. The warrants were secured based on two $100 sales of marijuana. DEU agents ascended Betton’s porch and, without knocking or announcing or waiting any period of time, smashed in his front door. Within two or three seconds of entry, three agents armed with semiautomatic rifles fired 29 shots at Betton, hitting him nine times and paralyzing him for life.
Officers repeatedly lied about the events leading up to the raid, falsely stating that they only entered after knocking, announcing, and waiting a reasonable time, and falsely stating that they only shot Betton because he fired first. Their statements were disproven by recordings taken from Mr. Betton’s home security system and by forensic analysis of Mr. Betton’s firearm.
Discovery revealed that agents with the Drug Enforcement Unit almost always failed to knock and announce before executing residential search warrants. It also revealed that none of the officers who participated in the raid were ever disciplined for their conduct during the raid, or for the false statements they made after the raid. The most recent settlement was secured after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court’s order denying summary judgment to the sole individual officer who had not yet settled.
Patterson Harkavy attorneys Burton Craige, Brad Bannon, Narendra Ghosh, and Paul Smith represented Betton, together with Myrtle Beach attorney Jonny McCoy. The terms of the settlement were announced in a press conference this morning. Footage of the press conference is available here.