Man Paralyzed by Horry County DEU Agents Settles With Most Defendants For $2.75M

MYRTLE BEACH, SC – The man shot and paralyzed by agents of the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit settled most of his claims in federal court.

Julian Betton will be paid $2.75 million for his claims against the DEU commander Bill Knowles, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, DEU deputy commander Dean Bishop, Coastal Carolina police officers Chad Guess and Frank Waddell, and Horry County sheriff’s deputy Chris Dennis, according to Betton’s attorney, Jonny McCoy. The settlement will be paid in a lump sum.

Betton’s claims against the City of Myrtle Beach and a Myrtle Beach police officer haven’t been settled.

DEU agents raided Betton’s home on Withers Swash Drive in Myrtle Beach in April 2015 after a confidential informant bought a small amount of marijuana from Betton, the lawsuit said. His lawsuit claimed plainclothes officers who weren’t identified as police burst through his door.

A SLED investigation found Betton pointed his gun at officers, but he didn’t fire the gun. According to the lawsuit, officers fired 57 shots and hit Betton nine times.

“The officers were entitled to defend themselves from the moment he presented a danger to their lives by presenting the weapon,” 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett wrote in a letter announcing no charges against the officers. Brackett made the determination since the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office was part of the lawsuit.

The federal case revealed changing stories from police. Initially, most of the agents told SLED investigators they had knocked on Betton’s door, as required by the search warrant, before entering his home.

Surveillance video, showing officers ramming quickly ramming Betton’s door, appeared to contradict the story from police. Recent court filings included testimony from agent Chad Guess, in which he admitted he “didn’t know” whether anyone knocked on Betton’s door. “I thought so at the time. Looking at the surveillance cameras now and everything, I’d say no.”

Guess also acknowledged a possibly misleading warrant for the raid. The warrant presented to a judge said a confidential informant indicated “distribution of marijuana along with other various drugs” even though the DEU didn’t have any evidence of “other various drugs” being distributed, according to the deposition.

The defendants had claimed worries about safety because, they said, Betton was known to carry a weapon with him.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson didn’t immediately respond to a request for information about the settlement, so it’s unclear who will pay for it.

Betton’s attorney told News13 the case against Myrtle Beach could go to trial by May. The city’s attorneys have filed to dismiss the claims against it.