Article by Radley Balko, Washington Post
In my series on policing in South Carolina last year, I noted the story of Julian Betton, a Myrtle Beach man who was raided by a multi-jurisdictional drug task force after allegedly making two $50 pot sales to a friend who, unbeknownst to him, also happened to be a police informant. There were some new developments in the case this week. But first, some background:
After forcing Betton’s door down with a battering ram, members of the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit fired at least 57 bullets at the then-31-year-old Betton, hitting him nine times. A summary of Betton’s injuries:
“He ended up losing his gallbladder and parts of his bowel, colon and rectum. The bullets also damaged his liver, small intestine and pancreas. His lung partially collapsed. His left leg was broken. One of his vertebrae was partially destroyed; two others were fractured. He’ll never walk again or be able to have kids of his own. He’ll also need to use a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.”
The police claimed that they knocked and announced themselves several times before entering Betton’s home. Only after those knocks and announcements did they force down his door. At that point, they said, Betton fired a handgun at them, giving them no choice but to empty their guns into him.
That story was always suspicious. Betton was at worst a small-time pot dealer. It just wouldn’t make much sense for him to knowingly fire a handgun at a raid team of a dozen cops. Even if he were the sort willing to kill a law enforcement officer over some pot, he was massively out-armed and out-manned.