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. A petite jury or trial jury is selected from the voting rolls and usually by lot. A Grand Jury is appointed the the authorities.

  2. Nick Spinelli: “But, I know there are many more good cops who function in a bad culture than there are bad ones.”

    Isn’t it then incumbent on the ‘good’ to change the culture of the ‘bad’? Or is the culture of the ‘bad’ so all pervasive that for all intents and purposes there ARE no ‘good’?

  3. Texas and the rural drug problems are real. The fallacy in the no knock warrants are real as well. They should only be used sparingly and if it’s for growing plants or other product manufacture maybe they should consider doing the raids late evening or morning. Users will be stoned or passed out by that time.

    Conducting raids in the early AM is just asking for a response like this. I am surprised that the matter was NO BILLED.

  4. If I remember correctly, and invoking Godwin’s law, the first thing Nazis did was to disarm the population.
    I don’t recall them feeling any less need to carry guns.
    That applies to all other despotic nations as well.
    Yes, a silly dream, on a Monday.

  5. @GaryT

    No. But thank you for providing a “real time ” example of why I need to sign my post!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    (PS : I did play act the Princess Lynette role once after one of my stupid boyfriends read some stupid book about Sleeping Beauty??? I think I might be a natural, but I don ‘t want to talk about that.)

  6. Perhaps if America could see her way to NOT enabling every Tom, Dick, and Harry to have so many guns (legal or un), the police might feel less need for so many ‘no knock’ raids. ( I know, silly dreamer on a Monday.)

  7. Nick:
    Despite my experience with cops in general, both at being their victim and at being one of their administrators, I am not a cop hater either, but I believe such power attracts and brings out the worst in people who have the propensity to lord over others, just because they can.
    It is more important to rein in their powers, than to respect and encourage them.
    Like a casino, they don’t have to cheat to win.

  8. You don’t have to be a “cop hater” to see that they are out of control and that the people who are supposed to be exercising oversight just don’t care.

  9. JT: In your topic headline. “Texas jury…” If it is a Grand Jury then that is a far cry from a Trial Jury. The single word jury means trial jury. A trial jury is picked by the two sides to a criminal jury trial. A Grand Jury is picked by the authorities that be. So a Grand Jury refusing to indict is better for the civil rights side of the aisle than a Trial Jury that has acquitted or hung up.

  10. Not often a cop killer goes free. It appears, “drugs, schmugs.”

    And this gem from warspite, “I also hope the lefty sops who feed at this trough….”

    Why so needlessly, partisanly divisive? What purpose does this serve? It does not appear in any way “cute” or even informed. Just… spew… who is it designed to “convince?” Or are we just having a bad day?

  11. anon, I take you @ your word that you are not a cop hater. That said, there are some here. Regarding changing the culture. Do you have any idea how difficult that is? Many have tried and been vilified or just given up and gone on to other careers. I am not all knowing but I do know a lot. I’ve been around.

  12. Our procedure was to announce “Sheriff’s Office, Search Warrant !” three times and then go in if nobody immediately came forward to open the door. (That is if it was more than just a standard search warrant)

    Just barging in there is risky

  13. “Now, unlike many here, I am not a cop hater.” -Nick, the dick

    Really? “Cop haters” here? I don’t hate cops — I just hate bad behavior. And I especially hate it when they break the law.

    “I probably know more law enforcement than anyone here except for maybe one or two. I know their culture. I know their mindset.” -Nick, the dick

    Ah, yes, Nick: — the all-knowing.

    “But, I know there are many more good cops who function in a bad culture than there are bad ones.” – Nick, the dick

    The good ones need to start fixing the system, I’d say, instead of going along with the program.

  14. All engineers are conservative, by definition. I am an engineer, licensed by the State of Wisconsin. Therefore, I am, by definition a conservative.

    As a conservative, I seek to conserve the progress of human biological and social development, which, to me, as a conservative, is synonymous with progress. Because I am a conservative who seeks to conserve progress, I am, by definition, a progressive.

    Therefore, I am a conservative progressive? Or, am I a progressive conservative? Either way, I seek to do my part in conserving human personal and social progress.

    There has been, and continues to be, progress in the conservative field of social psychology; for methinks that a principle focus of social psychology is conserving human society, through understanding it well enough to conserve its truths and to progress away from its falsehoods.

    While there are those who confuse the “correspondence bias” with the “fundamental attribution error” (perhaps even including Lee Ross, who came up with the label, “fundamental attribution error”), I observe the correspondence bias to be, in some particulars, starkly different from the correspondence bias.

    In my work, that of theoretical biology and applied theoretical biology, both done within the realm of bioengineering as professional (state-licensed) engineering, I have found it apparently essential to find the dividing boundary between what is truthfully attributed to situational factors and what is truthfully attributed to dispositional factors.

    The traditional notion of the boundary between what is situational and what is dispositional is one of locus of control; that which is situational is, by definition, outside a person’s locus of control, whereas that which is, by definition, dispositional is within a person’s locus of control.

    Alas. the limit boundary of a person’s actual locus of control is, also by definition, the limit boundary of a person’s truthful accountabiity. A person cannot truthfully be held accountable for that over which the person did not have actual control; being held (legally held?) accountable for that which was not within a person’s actual locus of control is, at the least, serious to disastrous abuse.

    For those not well-versed in locus of control issues, there are two books in my professional library, the reading of a copy of each book might greatly help not-well-versed folks gain some useful social psychology competence.

    The more recent book is, Attribution and Social INteraction: The Legacy of Edward E. Jones, John M. Darley & Joel Cooper, eds., American Psychological Association, 1998. The first chapter of this book, Daniel T. Gilbert, Speeding with Ned: A Personal View of the Correspondence Bias, could be found in pdf form on the Internet the last time I checked.

    However, the Comment on Gilbert by Lee Ross is apparently available only in the book, and not on the Internet.

    The older book is Attribution Theory: Applications to Achievement, Mental Health, and Interpersonal Conflict, Sandra Graham & Valerie S. Folkes, eds., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990. This book may usefully help illumine police and public interaction in terms of its subtitle; particularly regarding mental health and interpersonal conflict.

    Further enlightenment may be achieved through reading and studying Gordon W. Allport, The Nature of Prejudice, Addison-Wesley, 1954; especially if one is capable of the temerity to replace supposed racial social divisions with social authoritarian divisions and apply the principles of Allport’s work on prejudice to prejudice by police against the public and prejudice by the public against police.

    Allport, pages 38-46 has subheadings of “Social Distance,” “The Group-Norm Theory of Prejudice,” “Can there Be an In-group without an Out-group?” and, “Can Humanity Constitute an In-group?” What Allport wrote, as found on those pages, may help make sense of the enigma of law and law enforcement as related to “Humanity” with respect to what makes for the in-group functionality and what makes for the out-group functionality.

    With the police, anyone may be a perp and an out-group member; unlike skin color, there may be no observable evidence as to whether a prospective perp is, or is not, an in-group member or an out-group member. Likewise, for the public, there is no way in advance of an incident for a member of the public to accurately a police officer as in-group or out-group.

    While it may be simple to hurl epithets, I find scant evidence that so doing is of much, if any, useful help, except as it becomes accurately understood that hurling epithets may be of the essence of the police-public/public-police malaise.

    1. By definition my ass.
      I am an engineer and physicist, and that runs through my soul, but I am not a conservative.
      If anything, engineers would naturally be libertarians, not conservative.

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