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Texas Man Not Indicted For Killing Cop in No-Knock Drug Raid

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #821)
Consequences of Prohibition

It happens on a regular basis. Police conducting no-knock drug raids shoot and kill residents, claim they feared for their lives, and walk away free. But now, the shoe is on the other foot.

A Central Texas grand jury has refused to return a murder indictment against a Burleson County man who shot and killed sheriff's Sgt. Adam Sowders as Sowders led a group of law enforcement raiders through the door of the man's mobile home in a no-knock, pre-dawn drug raid on December 19.

The raiders had a search warrant for the home of Henry Goedrich Magee and were looking for marijuana plants and guns. But when they burst through the door, Magee, who was sleeping with his girlfriend, feared a home invasion robbery, grabbed a gun from his bed side, and opened fire, killing Sowders.

"This was a terrible tragedy that a deputy sheriff was killed, but Hank Magee believed that he and his pregnant girlfriend were being robbed," Magee's lawyer, renowned Texas criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin told the Associated Press. "He did what a lot of people would have done. He defended himself and his girlfriend and his home."

DeGuerin added that he could not recall another instance of a Texas grand jury declining to indict a defendant in the death of an officer.

The grand jury did indict Magee for the possession of a small number of marijuana plants and for having a gun while growing the pot plants. That charge is possession of marijuana while in possession of a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony. Conviction on a third-degree felony charge is punishable by from two to 10 years in state prison.

Burleson County District Attorney Julie Renken said after the grand jury decision that she thought the shooting had "occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos" and she thought the sheriff's office had done things correctly, "There is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that peace officers were entering his home," she conceded.

Renken vowed to "fully prosecute" the remaining case against Magee, who has been jailed without bond in nearby Washington County. DeGeurin said Magee will likely be released soon, since he faces only the marijuana and gun charge.

This was all over some pot plants.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


William Aiken (not verified)

This is a huge story and potential sea change for the way law enforcement conducts no-knock raids. I hope that the national media covers this result and furthers a conversation about the use of these deadly raids. The fact that the origin of this tragedy was a few pot plants should be a focal point. Supporters of the drug war claim that pot isn't something people are sent  to prison for, when in-fact there are many examples of people being killed or wound in no-knock situations like this one in Texas. Hopefully, this case will inspire the law to put and end to these senseless raids. 

Sun, 02/09/2014 - 9:45pm Permalink
Uncle Bob (not verified)

I don't know quite what to say.. this is very unexpected.  However I'm sure he'll still get the maximum sentence for the remaining charges.  Hopefully the whole "no-knock" raid concept can go the way of the dinosaurs when this old-fashioned Draconian "war on drugs" ends.

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:03am Permalink
Tennessee Jed (not verified)

A life was lost and lives are being uprooted and broken over the "crime" of growing a few pot plants in a mobile home... The war on drugs is INSANE. Literally insane.

How many more generations until this archaic ideology will end?

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 1:37pm Permalink
Carroll W Allison (not verified)

With so many in home bust-ins by the bad guys, surely there must be a better way for the good guys to enter a residence. Lots of homeowners are prepared for incursions, either good or bad guy.

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 2:46pm Permalink
Mitch (not verified)

Perhaps if our country WAKES UP and stops demonizing a naturally occurring, NONLETHAL plant with myriad social, agricultural, economic, medical, industrial and other benefits (and whose demonization is based upon absolutely nothing except propaganda and outright lies), we might prevent this type of utterly needless occurrence from ever happening again. I'm not happy that this officer was killed, but if it takes something like this to smack all of this country's propaganda-brainwashed sheep out of their ignorance-induced coma, then at least something good can come from completely preventable tragedy. As the court rightly found, no one is responsible for Officer Sowder's death except the despicable and highly self-destructive policy of ignorance that placed him directly in the line of fire.

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 6:38pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

If there's one criminal act that does not require a swat team it's a raid looking for pot plants.You just cannot flush a plant down the toilet.So why do the police insist on using no knock swat style raids when they're looking for plants?It just makes no sense on any level.Now someone is dead over a few plants.Another person will do the maximum for what shouldn't even be a crime.I can't believe that even in Texas it's illegal to own a gun if you own plants?Then again,nothing else in this story makes any sense,either.

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 11:48am Permalink
ArtG (not verified)

It's about time!!! Maybe this'll teach the cops that they're not above the law, despite what they might think.

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 2:12pm Permalink
dr_H (not verified)

   I would like to know how a search warrant can equal a Raid Warrant or a No Knock Search/ Raid. The warrant as I understand it gives the police the ability to conduct a search within certain parameters specified in the warrant. How then can it escalate to a No Knock Raid. Is that specified in the warrant signed by the judge or did the police take it upon themselves to use SWAT. I thought that SWAT Teams were to be used for hostage or terrorist situations. I think this really needs to be looked at with a microscope.                                                          Something else that bothers me about these types of situations is the fact that having a gun on the premises makes growing marijuana some how more of a crime, that gets a harsher penalty. Just because you grow marijuana does not mean you give up all your rights. A person growing marijuana is no more dangerous with a gun than a person not growing marijuana. A person growing marijuana deserves no less protection from home invasion, robbery or the police for that matter, than someone not growing marijuana.  This is just as skewed as the sentencing disparity between cocaine and crack.  Marijuana growers and smokers are no less protected by the constitution than anybody else and this type of discrimination needs to be addressed.


Sat, 02/15/2014 - 2:37am Permalink
lilbear68 (not verified)

maybe the tide has turned, now all thats needed is for the jury to use its nullification powers to let this hero go free

and on the up side its 1 less pig to deal with. a pointless death in pursuit of failed drug policies

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 11:36am Permalink
Anonymous666 (not verified)

Like I tried to say before, but continually deleted my comment. NOTHING is going to change until the drug warriors are the ones dying rather than all the innocent people in one cares even when the police kill someone at the wrong won't stop until WE fight back and I don't mean by BEGGING FOR OUR FREEDOM...

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 11:08pm Permalink

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