Man Shot And Paralyzed By Police Over $100 Of Marijuana Settles For $2.75 Million

In 2015, Julian Betton woke up from a coma in a Myrtle Beach hospital. He found himself paralyzed from the waist down. His liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine and colon were punctured or shredded, and his hand was cuffed to the bed. The 33-year-old South Carolinian hadn’t gotten into a car accident. Police had used a battering ram to access his home, firing 57 shots and hitting Betton nine times after informants bought $100 of weed off him. Three years later, the negligent brutalizing of Betton has ended in a $2.7 million dollar settlement.

The shooting happened on April 16, 2015, when DEU agents came to Betton’s home looking for drugs. A confidential informant had purchased marijuana from Betton on two prior occasions, and authorities had obtained warrants for his arrest.

During the shooting, Betton suffered injuries to his colon, bladder, liver and pancreas. He is paralyzed from the waist down.

A State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation determined that Betton never fired at the officers. However, an independent prosecutor who reviewed SLED’s findings cleared the police of any wrongdoing and said they were justified in shooting Betton because he pulled a gun on them.

Betton has said he had a gun in the waistband of his pants that day, but he denies drawing it and pointing at the police. His lawyers have also stressed their client’s home surveillance video shows drug agents ramming through his door without knocking. The agents had a standard search warrant, meaning they legally would have been required to knock and announce themselves before entering.

The police account of the events said that the officers first knocked on the door to announce themselves before breaking the door in, and that Betton soon after took the first shot that sparked an exchange of fire. Police officers had body cameras, but they inconspicuously only picked up footage of the aftermath. Unfortunately for the Myrtle Beach cops, Betton had installed his own cameras around his property, and forensics showed, without a doubt, that even if Betton had drawn his weapon, it was never fired.

Last year, Betton pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and distribution of marijuana. Judge Larry Hyman suspended his sentence.

Court records indicate Julian Betton’s lawsuit was dismissed Tuesday against the solicitor, DEU leaders Bill Knowles and Dean Bishop, agent Chad Guess, as well as officers Frank Waddell and Chris Dennis.

The case against the Myrtle Beach Police Department and MBPD officer David Belue is continuing.

“That is a huge relief for him at this point,” Betton’s attorney, Jonny McCoy, said. “However, there’s still a lot left to be compensated for.”

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McCoy said the additional compensation will be for Betton’s past medical care and future medical care.

“So far, Myrtle Beach has refused to accept its responsibility,” McCoy said. “We intend to pursue this case until Julian is fully compensated for his injuries.”

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