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. Retired from 42 years in law enforcement,a fifth level supervisor, it still amazes me that folks with two digit IQs are allowed to . plan and conduct raids which can only be classified as stupid, ignorant, malicious, brainless catastrophies.Most raids never need to be. There are myriad ways to “get the goods” on the Bad Guys without kicking down doors. The general public need not be made aware of those methodologies, lest the Bad Guys find means to nullify them. The householder, whatever his moral delinquencies, has the right to shoot airhead Keystone Cops who crash and trash without warning.. In the interests of political correctness law enforcement agencies recruit amoral, physically, intellectually and emotionally challenged persons who simply cannot function effectively in enforcement situations too difficult for them to resolve.The solution is to attract better people and to train them extensively.
    That means no more political correctness- it is absolutely incompatible with high quality law enforcement. LAPD is a classic example. Lowering the hiring standards makes for raids like this one.

  2. What a terrible but 100% preventable tragedy.

    Why couldn’t the police simply have knocked on the door?

    What type of supposedly highly trained personnel attempt to breach an unknown target with no prior surveillance of the target?

    Thankfully the grand jury refused to destroy the life of Goedrich Magee.

  3. I think they should start keeping data on the outcomes of no-knock warrants – how often cops, innocent bystanders, wrong house, suspects, dogs, etc are hurt.

    I suspect that no-knock warrants actually increase the danger to all involved, but if we had hard data, it would make it easy to make the case to reduce no-knocks.

  4. It appears that no-knock warrants increase the likelihood of panic, violent opposition, and injury to innocent bystanders and the cops themselves. The case of the toddler injured by the stun grenade still haunts me. Does anyone know what became of the child?

    Any reasonable person would feel intense alarm if someone burst into his home, and would defend himself. People who would ordinarily never fight with a police office would be in the middle of a violent self defense struggle before he even realized it was the police.

  5. Since when has any local empire, (county) paid much attention to what the SC has ruled unless it fits there agenda?
    Sounds to me like the black robbed devil and prosecutor’s powers where not in direct proportion to the jury’s ignorance for once. I commend the jury for the truth.
    It is too bad and tragic not to mention the insanity that one young man was shot and killed over a few plants, but it has been quoted once before, “It is sad that many will perish believing the BIG lie, but tragic that many have and will continue to do so, defending the BIG lie. “ SA

    This SWAT madness has got to stop. These corporate thugs with a gun, badge and 007 license have become the most dangerous element in our society today and all by design. It is also just about impossible to show someone the truth when their pay check depends on them not knowing the truth.

    Allow me to close with one more quote,
    “There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but inborn in our hearts, a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading, a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.””
    Marcus Tullius Cicero

  6. The people can take a win on this one! I suppose if I hated all humanity and wanted to see more death & destruction from war and no-knock raids, I’d call myself WarSpite too! (the first comment)

  7. I had a friend in the Mafia who owned a two family flat which he used for business purposes. Just inside the front door he cut a six ft by six foot hole in the floor and put a trap door on it. In the basement there was a huge tangle of barbed wire. He set it up so that if you stepped on the trap door without pushing a button first, then the door dropped you down onto the barbed wire. But wait, it gets better. When someone fell on the wire it tripped another switch which cause a firehose noozle to open up and flood the basement. The windows were bricked up and there was no door to escape. We heard that he got one cop that way and had the house burned to the ground to hide the evidence that same night. It was insured. This was many years ago in a prior incarnation when I was a human living in Kansas City. It is a good way to deal with no knock cops.

  8. Although…….. If he hadn’t been growing the drugs in the first place there would have been no need of a warrant.
    The weapons may have been legally purchased but having them in posseson while growing drugs is a federal crime.

  9. Rest in peace Adam.

    Poignant post professor.

    There was indeed a judge who signed the warrant.

    Just going through the motions will not do.

    The fatalities at the intersection of Enforcement Street and Peace Keeping Avenue behind and in front of the badge are becoming all to common.

    Let’s hope the ones who sign the warrants are paying attention and start asking a few more questions.

  10. No, Gary T, you do not remember correctly. In 1919, Weimar Germany enacted extremely strict gun control policies. They actually were loosed in the 1930s.

  11. “Earlier this month, District Attorney Julie Renken presented the case against Magee to a grand jury. “I made a very thorough presentation on Texas law on cap murder and Texas self defense law,” Renken told me in a phone interview” a quote from the WaPo article sited in this post.

    As a criminal defense attorney I find this to be even more fascinating than the grand jury’s refusal to issue an indictment. The very notion that a prosecutor would instruct or even allude to the possible existence of an affirmative defense before a grand jury is something I’ve never heard of.

  12. What’s wrong with being a cop hater?

    It seems the goal of many cops is to inspire hatred. It also seems that politicians should expect their subjects to hate the enforcers of their edicts.

  13. The focus of most comments here are on some of the symptoms rather than the underlying problem. Thus the folk(s) who try to divide us with labels such as “cop haters” and cop lovers?,

    The problem and what should be addressed, imo, is why the most dangerous drugs are legal …without a prescription needed, those that DO require a prescription that can only be filled by a legal dealer @ CVS, and those drugs which are presently illegal via laws which few people here can defend with a rational argument and not merely ad hominens.

  14. Warspite, maybe the officer shouldn’t have asked for a no-knock warrant, and maybe this will teach officers not to ask for them so often. The guy had pot plants. He couldn’t have flushed those. All the officer had to do was knock on the door, show the warrant and conduct his search and he’d still be alive today. Our police are way too militarized now with such an “us against them” mentality. It’s no wonder that more of them get shot these days.

    Pot ought to be legal anyway. We aren’t stopping a darned thing with our laws. All we’re doing is wasting a fortune and causing even more problems than we caused with our failed experiment with alcohol prohibition. It’s too popular to ban with any success and we’re doing more harm than good trying. Most who want to smoke it are already doing so. Why put officers at risk over it? Why go knocking down doors and shooting dogs and sometimes innocent people over it? Why have the millions who smoke marijuana buy it from the black market where they will be offered far worse drugs?

    I’m guessing you’re a cop or prosecutor. Maybe you should lay off the people involved with pot. It’s not even worth it anymore. All the polls in the last few years are showing that a majority of Americans want to be legalized and that support just keeps on growing. I think of that every time I plead somebody to prison on a pot charge. This officer’s family are going to think of that from now on as they see more states legalize and see the feds finally come around and legalize at the federal level, which will happen. It is inevitable. Why do people have to die over this? Why do we have to waste prison beds? Make arrests when you see it, or when it’s part of another bust, but otherwise don’t go out of your way looking for it. Don’t go kicking down doors for it.

  15. It appears that the plants were not the problem:
    “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.”
    …so, they got the “no knock” warrant because of the added claim of possible illegal guns.
    Illegal guns…
    In this case, there appears to be no difference between legal or illegal guns.

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