Texas Jury Refuses To Indict Man Who Shot and Killed Officer During “No Knock” Raid

Adam SowdersHenry Goedrich MageeWe have previously discussed our concerns over the seemingly exponential increase in “no knock” raids in the country where police give no warning before raiding a home. (here and here and here and here and here and here). Now in a remarkable ruling, a Texas grand jury has refused to indict Goedrich Magee, 20, who shot and killed a law enforcement officer, Burleson County Sgt. Adam Sowders, 31, during a no knock entrance into his home. Magee said that he thought he was being robbed and acted to protect his pregnant girlfriend and children. The grand jury “no billed” the case in February.

We have seen other such mistaken self-defense cases arise around the country as police increasingly use these no knock warrants. Magistrate and judges appear to give little thought to approving such warrants despite a ruling earlier by the Supreme Court limiting their use. Police now routinely ask and receive warrants that waive the constitutional requirement to “knock and announcement.” Not only is this requirement codified in the U.S. Code, but it is viewed as a factor in determining if a search or seizure is reasonable under the fourth amendment. In 1995, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Wilson v. Arkansas that the requirement was indeed part of the constitutional test and in Richards v. Wisconsin the Court later rejected categorical waivers for “knock and announcement” for cases like drug investigations. Police must show on a case-by-case basis that they have reasonable suspicion of exigent circumstances.

In this case, the police were after alleged marijuana plants that an informant said he was growing. The warrant then added a claim of possible “illegal guns.” The police found the marijuana but all of his guns were legal. A major complaint is that police routinely add language about the possibility of unlawful weapons to secure these “no knocks.”

The prosecutors tried to secure an indictment for capital murder charges and had bail set at $1 million.

Once again, there has been little attention to the increasing no knock warrants that have grown in tandem with the militarization of our police forces. The result is not just a chilling effect for citizens but increasing mistaken shootings. In this case, an officer is dead and the prosecutors wanted to send away a father for life — for a raid to secure a few marijuana plants.

64 thoughts on “Texas Jury Refuses To Indict Man Who Shot and Killed Officer During “No Knock” Raid”

  1. @bc

    Thx! I just always do it because some places I am just “Squeeky” and other places “Squeeky Fromm ” sooo I sign it so people will know which one I am, even though the other one spells her name differently.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  2. Squeeky, you don’t need to sign your posts. Your pseudonym appears above every one. Welcome to the internet.

  3. Watch any video of police in action, and you see a good portion of them that have military style haircuts. They’ve started wearing “BDU” uniforms instead of regular uniforms like we all grew up with. Add all that together with the profit motive that police agencies have for drug raids, and you’ve got a bad situation.

    What’s especially damaging for community/police relations is that in many cases police don’t see themselves as part of the community. They see themselves as outside of the general part of society as some special force and persona. That’s why they call us civilians. Guess what officers, you are too for 16 hours a day.

    The no-knock warrant is indicative of a bigger problem in law enforcement, at least as I see it. The profit motive combined with free toys from the military. Cmon, everyone feels like a bad-as* when they can dress up in black, carry military weapons, and drive around in armored vehicles. Especially when so many of them are former military who now have the experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan to compare to when policing small town America. The second problem is a police culture that denigrates and demonizes anyone who is against “them”. It’s not just the criminals, that are viewed as sub-human. It’s everyone on the street who is a potential criminal. For every officer friendly I’ve encountered throughout my life ( my past life when I was photojournalist) I encountered double or more the hot heads that had a Cartman like mentality. Respect mah authoritah.

    I don’t know the answer to fixing this. THere’s an inherent danger in police work that can’t be ignored. But law enforcement doesn’t help itself by relying on no-knock warrants when common sense could prevent any SWAT raid in the first place. The tragedy at Waco could have been avoided if ATF had just grabbed Koresh on the street during his morning walk. All of these drug users and dealers need to get milk sometime, don’t they? Why the rush to use tactics developed for the most dangerous crimes when they could just wait for the guy to have his hands full with groceries?

  4. @Rcampbell “A no-knock search for marijuana plants? Why? We’re the plants going to hide? Might all the plants be flushed or destroyed in the additional seconds required by a knock-and-enter search? ”

    That is a really good point. No-knock warrants are not allowed because serving warrants is dangerous work – regardless of what some are saying here.

    No-knock warrants are allowed to prevent destruction of evidence. But almost by definition, plants are not easy to destroy. It is just not very easy to get rid of the evidence of a plant.

    It would seem that judges and magistrates have an obligation to deny no-knock warrants when the contraband cannot be easily destroyed or removed as is the case with plants.

    BTW, there was a time when some were bragging that contraband could be recovered from sewer lines even after 15 or more flushes. I don’t know how true that is – but have you ever considered how long it takes to flush 15 times?

    Many no-Knock warrants unnecessarily endanger citizens with no benefit to society.

  5. Gary, There was a local Madison TV news story on that baby. The mom is from Wi. and the family moved back here to get away from all the craziness. They had footage of the child. Scarred for life, but thankfully, doing well otherwise.

  6. @GaryT

    I am from Texas. This is one of those events (like Trayvon) where you hate to see somebody get killed, but the dead guy put his own self in that position.

    At one of the links above, you learn that the police had gone to Magee ‘s house a few weeks earlier about him firing his guns too loudly, and Magee came to the door and there was no problem. But, some idiot here wanted to do a raid and show who was the biggest swinging d@ck, and KERBLAMMO —you got a dead cop.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. This is one reason why cops are aligned w/ all the 2nd Amendment haters. They want to be able to be the only person armed. These natural consequences cases may help in getting their minds right! Please note this raid was about cannabis; many of these “no knocks” are predicated on something that should not be illegal.

    Now, unlike many here, I am not a cop hater. I probably know more law enforcement than anyone here except for maybe one or two. I know their culture. I know their mindset. But, I know there are many more good cops who function in a bad culture than there are bad ones.

  8. Yep, desiring the enforcement of Constituional rights makes me a “lefty sop”. I think I will buy a badge–LEFTY SOP FOR THE CONTITUTION!
    What a ridiculous comment.

    Enforcing Constituional protections and requiring police to follow the requirements for a warrant and stop lying is the proper thing to do. The continued refusal of both police departments and judges to respect the constitution usually results in civilian deaths and injuries perhaps this sad tragedy will make police departments rethink their behavior. Perhaps it will but I won’t hold my breath.

  9. A very strong jury to stand up to the prosecutor. We the people have power, we just rarely use it. We have the power as jurists to not convict and we have the power when we vote. It is long past time we use this power.

  10. They ARE applauding the guy protecting his castle. As is JT here in the article.
    An overmilitarized police at least needs an overmilitarized populace, at least then they might think twice about throwing grenades into babies’ cribs.

  11. A no-knock search for marijuana plants? Why? We’re the plants going to hide? Might all the plants be flushed or destroyed in the additional seconds required by a knock-and-enter search?

    Because we’ve made the error of ever listening to conservatives, we allow legal guns everywhere for everyone (this is Rick Perry’s Texas, no less), stand-your-grounds laws, and overly militarized police. What could go wrong? We’ve seen many instances where cops have killed or maimed adults, children (think stun-grenade tossed into a baby’s crib recently) and animals sometimes while invading the wrong house, all with impunity. One would think the gun rights nuts here would be applauding the guy protecting his “castle” from a home invasion instead of maligning “lefty sops who feed at this trough”. This is totally a result of failed conservative policies—as are most of the failures in this country.

  12. “No knock” warrant is weenie words for “break the door down warrant without ringing the doorbell warrant”. Say that you are gathered around the breakfast table with family, hands joined in prayer, and the door comes crashing open and then an army of thugs come in, guns drawn, shoot the dog, and bedlam invades. The Lord will not take it kindly. Each cop, the superior officer, the Chief of Police, the Town, the Judge, the Prosecutor, the staff of all, will be candidates for places in Hell. All should be shot by a human. We can not leave this up to Saint Peter to remedy. If you know that they are coming or think so, then set up a spring loaded shotgun at the inside of the front door.

  13. Every judge who issues a no knock warrant needs his home invaded by pigs like that shown in the photograph of dead guy. The people in that county need to have that judge removed. He can clean outhouses or be a divorce lawyer. Same thing.

  14. (Early morning comments, a bit tweaky . . where is Squeeky from again?)

    Well, yes it is an amazing result, especially from a grand jury, who only get to hear one side of the story. Saying you can indict a ham sandwich is not for nothing.
    This almost was like jury nullification, but even before trial.
    A rare but good trend, unfortunately it take thousands of lives lost to illegal police activity and raids before the wrongness of it all bubbles down to the common juried panel.
    I might add, that just because this jury chose to not indict, doesn’t prevent the prosecutor from trying as many times as he want to re-indict.

  15. I think I need to ask Fred Hampton about “mistaken self-defense” acts when police break in to a home without genuinely proper cause.

    Somewhat like Fred, close relatives of mine went to Proviso East High School, in Maywood, Illinois.

    Somewhat like Fred, I was a Triton College student.

    Somewhat like Fred, I lived for a time on West Monroe Street, in Chicago, only about a mile farther west of where Fred lived.

    Somewhat like Fred, police officers broke into my home without anything resembling what I consider to be proper probable cause, doing serious property damage.

    Somewhat not like Fred, I have not been killed/murdered/assassinated by police officers.

    Oh, no! I cannot ask Fred about “mistaken self-defense” acts when police enter forcibly without what is, for me, proper probable cause.”

    Alas, for me, a few, or a fair size bunch, of plants are not proper cause for breaking into a home, with, or without, proper probable cause.

    The field work study for my bioengineering Ph.D. thesis was titled, “An Inquiry Into the Nature of MIstakes,” for purposes of properly (according to relevant federal law) avoiding University of Illinois at Chicago Institutional Review Board oversight of my doctoral research methodologies, as was determined by the University of Illinois at Chicago Office for Protection from Research Risks.

    I cannot ask Fred. Fred is dead.

    Don’t know about Fred Hampton? I never met him. Yet, I knew about him while I worked in his neighborhood and its environs.

    A simple Google search for “Black Panther Raid” and “Fred Hampton” turned up a story from the Chicago Tribune of 4 December 1969.

    It has long been my view that the “Black Pantaher Raid” was, pragmatically, a no-knock raid, if only because the Chicago Police, so my best guess has long held, simply did not allow enough time between knocking and shooting for those in the apartment to wake up adequately. Perhaps I am mistaken about that; I was not there then.

    However, as an autistic transgendered person, I find that I have more than reasonable probable cause to harbor a strong sense of inner terror regarding my possibly encountering police officers in these tremulous times.

    However, perhaps somewhat in contrast with the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, I am no less concerned for police officer safety than I am for anyone else, myself included. Perhaps, perhaps unwittingly, I am mistaken about that.

    When is it right to be wrong?

  16. One of those too many scumbags is Warspite, Actually scumbag is too classy for this “thing”, I think overflowing, contents spewing colostomy bag is a better fit.

  17. Excuse me….. that’s ‘KNOCK’ before attempting to enter!!!!

  18. Notice to Police……. This is the way it should be….. In America, ”A Man’s home is his Castle’…. Know before attempting to enter!!!

  19. I hope there is enough emphasis in this article that the situation ended with no winners, only losers.

    I also hope the lefty sops who feed at this trough recognize the necessity of no-knock warrants. Serving warrants is dangerous work. Just ask any US Marshal, or the local enforcement agency that serves eviction notices/complaints. There are too many scumbags out there who are more than happy to shoot through a door, killing whoever is on the other side.

    The answer? Maybe judges need to read warrant applications more carefully. But, that doesn’t help the police officer out serving dispossessory complaints, or the Marshal who grabbed a few warrants to serve on their way home. How about this: from now on have all warrants served by legislators & others pols. I bet they’ll come to a surprisingly quick solution.

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