Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson has asked the state’s Attorney General’s office to handle the case involving a Myrtle Beach man who was shot by officers in 2015.
Richardson is being sued by the man, Julian Betton, and asked the Attorney’s General office to prosecute the case to avoid the appearance of impropriety, he told The Sun News. Hayley Bledsoe, communication director at the Attorney General’s office, confirmed the AG is handling the case.
Betton, 32, was charged with three counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana after court documents say police found 222 grams (about 8 ounces) in his Withers Swash Drive home during a raid. Two undercover buys with an informant prompted officers to obtain a warrant to search Betton’s home, but Betton’s lawsuit contends the poor execution of that warrant led to a series of events that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Jonny McCoy, an attorney for Betton, praised the transfer of the case to the Attorney General.
“I definitely think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “It was an obvious conflict.”
He also said he expects that any charges originating from events inside Betton’s home will be dropped.
“A first-year law student could tell you that’s a Fourth Amendment violation,” McCoy said, referring to the amendment banning illegal searches and seizures.
Richardson oversees the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit and is named in the suit, and Betton is suing leaders of the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit and the drug agents who shot him nine times during the raid of his apartment in 2015. Bradley Bannon, a Raleigh-based attorney known for working in the defense of three Duke university lacrosse players accused of rape in 2006, recently joined Betton’s legal team.
During the raid, Betton’s suit alleges plainclothes officers who were not identified as police burst through his door before they shot him. DEU officers initially said Betton fired first, but later admitted that was not true, and an investigation found that a gun in Betton’s possession was not fired.
A day before Betton’s lawsuit was filed in federal court, officers charged him with three counts of pointing a firearm, each count representing one of the officers who shot Betton.