28-year-old Henry Magee is no longer charged in the shooting death of Burleson County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Sowders.
A grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence for him to stand trial on the capital murder charge.
McGee admitted to shooting Sowders before sunrise on December 19th while the deputy and other investigators were serving a no knock search warrant for drugs at McGee’s mobile home near Snook.
Magee’s Defense Attorney Dick DeGuerin says his client thought someone was breaking into his home and fired to protect his pregnant girlfriend and himself.
This is a case you probably did not hear about and will not receive much publicity, but it is a tectonic shake in the legal system.
Henry Magee had a marijuana hydroponic mini lab, there is no doubt as the evidence presents it. He also had guns which the police informant said at least one was stolen. But after the raid, the amount of pot found did not even come close to the six-foot tall plants that the informer said ( barely inches tall) and the guns were all legally owned. The police applied and got a warrant on the unconfirmed information given by an informant who had been arrested and was obviously trying to make some sort of deal. The police seems to be immune from doing due diligence and conform that the place was indeed a dangerous place ran by a dangerous man. The raid occurs and one officer dies when the homeowner uses his firearm to fend off what he thinks is a break in.
Now, this happened in Texas where they are not shy of sending people to prison or to the Needle Room. That a Grand Jury returned with a No-Bill for murder of a police officer is monumental and is announcing that raids of this style are losing favor among the population.
Police officers are told many times never to trust informants as they are unreliable and will lie to get themselves out of a situation. yet, too many investigators fall prey of a sweet-talker who like a great seducer, tells them exactly what they want to hear. Couple that with a department who convinced the local politicians of the need for a SWAT team with all the guns, gadgets and tacticool clothing which need to be funded every year and the only way to guarantee that funding is to show they are using it a lot.
Beside the militarization of the police force, we are also seeing an increased use of unnecessary escalation of violent methods to “control” arrested suspect. It is a brave new world with cameras in every corner and every phone and which will share the video of a bad arrest all over the internet before the cop has time to start the paperwork.
Police, as any big enterprise has a tough time changing the status quo. But they must change training and fast or risk having more officers killed and counties sued. Politicians will also turn on them the second they feel police actions are costing them votes. If push comes to shove, they will even come up with legislation to reduce qualified immunity making the job of policing much harder.
So, we need to bring back the concept of Peace Officer rather than Law Enforcement Officer. Make sure SWAT teams are used for the truly dangerous customers and not to check and make sure barber shops are violating state code. Also, SWAT commanders and the entity or subject that requests a SWAT raid, must be held responsible for botched raids or ones performed at the wrong address. If innocent people die, they both should be brought up on charges and prosecuted: One for not doing due diligence on researching the intended target and the other for going along without checking if everything was on the level and making sure a raid was needed in the first place. In the above case, they could have waited for the house to be alone and enter to secure the evidence while having Magee arrested anywhere else. Both the narcotics detective and the SWAT commander should have been the ones having their rights read on the way to local jail and charged at least with Manslaughter.