HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – A man paralyzed in an Horry County drug raid has been awarded more than $11 million.
On Thursday, Julian Betton was awarded $11.25 million. News13’s previously reported that Betton was suing the City of Myrtle Beach and a police officer after being shot and paralyzed by drug enforcement officers.
Betton was hit nine times by officers who fired 57 shots at him during a raid of his Myrtle Beach home in April 2015, according to the lawsuit. Betton settled with the DEU task force, the 15th Circuit Court solicitor and other parties for $2.75 million in 2018.
The City of Myrtle Beach issued this statement in response on Thursday: As noted in January, the insurance company representing the City of Myrtle Beach made a decision to settle the case involving Julian Betton. We believe that reaching this agreement was not only right for the city, but also for Mr. Betton. The city’s officers in this case were part of a multi-officer team under the jurisdiction of the Horry County Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU). As noted by Mr. Betton’s attorneys, retired Police Chief Warren Gall conducted an investigation of the operation and identified a number of deficiencies. As a result, the Myrtle Beach Police Department no longer participates in the Drug Enforcement Unit. The Myrtle Beach Police Department has policies and training in place governing search warrants and their execution to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of our citizens. Myrtle Beach also was one of the first departments in the state to equip its officers with body-worn cameras. Our officers are required to wear and activate those cameras for the protection of the public and the city.
DEU agents raided Betton’s home on Withers Swash Drive in Myrtle Beach in April 2015 after a confidential informant bought a small amount of marijuana from Betton, the lawsuit said. His lawsuit claimed plainclothes officers who weren’t identified as police burst through his door.
A SLED investigation found Betton pointed his gun at officers, but he didn’t fire the gun. According to the lawsuit, officers fired 57 shots and hit Betton nine times.
“The officers were entitled to defend themselves from the moment he presented a danger to their lives by presenting the weapon,” 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett wrote in a letter announcing no charges against the officers. Brackett made the determination since the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office was part of the lawsuit.
The federal case revealed changing stories from police. Initially, most of the agents told SLED investigators they had knocked on Betton’s door, as required by the search warrant, before entering his home.
Surveillance video, showing officers ramming quickly ramming Betton’s door, appeared to contradict the story from police. Recent court filings included testimony from agent Chad Guess, in which he admitted he “didn’t know” whether anyone knocked on Betton’s door. “I thought so at the time. Looking at the surveillance cameras now and everything, I’d say no.”
Guess also acknowledged a possibly misleading warrant for the raid. The warrant presented to a judge said a confidential informant indicated “distribution of marijuana along with other various drugs” even though the DEU didn’t have any evidence of “other various drugs” being distributed, according to the deposition.
The defendants had claimed worries about safety because, they said, Betton was known to carry a weapon with him.
Count on News13 for updates.