All I can think, over and over, is: What if this were my house? With no legitimate reason for police to enter my home in this way, I would absolutely assume whoever did this must be criminals intent on harming me or my family—no matter what they are wearing, and no matter what they are claiming with their words.
This was, it turns out, is not a theoretical matter for some people. Specifically, it happened to Henry Goedrich Magee. Unlike the raid Bob wrote about, which was not even supposed to be a no-knock raid and was premised on the fact that a person living in the house had a handgun permit, even though he was not a suspect, this was an official no-knock raid. And Magee was no innocent (though he hasn’t been convicted in court yet). Rather, he was growing marijuana plants at his house.
He woke up next to his pregnant girlfriend hearing intruders breaking into his home. He grabbed his gun and shot one, killing a deputy sheriff.
Magee is now awaiting trial on drug charges, but a grand jury refused to indict him for homicide.
According to the Daily Beast:
Magee’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin of Houston, called the fatal shooting a tragic accident, noting that Magee believed his home was being robbed and his pregnant girlfriend at risk of harm.
“In my opinion, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Office did nothing illegal by securing and executing a “no knock” search warrant that day,” said Julie Renken, 21st Judicial District Attorney, in a statement. “I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made. However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home. The events occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos. The self-defense laws in Texas are viewed in the mindset of the actor, not the victim, which allows for tragedies to occur when one party is acting lawfully, but it can be reasonably seen as a threat of deadly force by another.”
What is missing from the Daily Beast’s text of the story, but included in the news video they embedded, is Magee’s attorney asking the question: Why a middle-of-the-night, no-knock raid in the first place? This raid was not after a small amount of illegal drug that could possibly have been flushed if the Peace Officers had knocked. Marijuana bushes cannot fit down a toilet. He could have been detained when he was outside his home so the sheriffs during the day.
The sheriff’s department issued a statement blaming Magee for choosing the criminal career that brought them to his mobile home that night. They are right. But they could also choose less dangerous tactics. It isn’t logic that is dictating midnight raids. Some other assumption or expectation is figuring into the decisions of law enforcement to prefer such methods.
There was no need for this tragedy to happen.