Over zealous law enforcement officers may want to heed this warning: search warrants are not bullet proof, and even suspected drug dealers have the right to protect themselves against intruders.
At least that is the ruling of one Texas jury, who earlier last week, declined to indict alleged marijuana grower Henry Goedrich Magee in the shooting death of a Burleson County sheriff’s deputy that entered his home with a search warrant.
Sergeant Adam Sowders and a team of investigators showed up at Magee’s rural home, just outside of Houston, in the early morning hours of December 19 to execute a search warrant for guns and marijuana. However, officers did not knock before entering, and they soon discovered that Magee did in fact have a gun, which he used to shoot and kill Deputy Sowders.
It seems that Goedrich mistook the blitzkrieg-style raid for a burglary.
Although the jury bought into the defense and let go free for the murder of a law enforcement official, they did indict him on possession of marijuana while in possession of a deadly weapon -- a third-degree felony offense -- even though his firearm was legally registered.
"This was a terrible tragedy that a deputy sheriff was killed, but Hank Magee believed that he and his pregnant girlfriend were being robbed," said Goedrich’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin. "He did what a lot of people would have done. He defended himself, his girlfriend and his home."
DeGuerin, who has been practicing law for 50 years, said he could not remember the last time a Texas jury refused to indict a defendant responsible for killing an officer of the law. As pointed out in a recent article by Reason magazine senior editor Jacob Sullum, not only is an end result such as this a rare occurrence in Texas but all across the nation “since people who shoot cops invading their homes usually do not get the same benefit of the doubt as cops do when the roles are reversed.”
In a recent statement by Burleson County district attorney Julie Renken, she states her belief that the sheriff’s office followed the appropriate protocol during the incident that “occurred in a matter of second amongst chaos.”
"I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made," said Renken. "However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home."
However, as Jacob Sullen wrote in his article, “It was the police, not Magee, who created the “chaos” in which Sowders was killed,” adding that regardless of marijuana being illegal, there should never be any reason to kick down the doors of citizens.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.