Julian Betton on April 16 was shot several times by members of the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit inside his Withers Swash apartment. Betton said he heard no knock before walking out of his bathroom that day as he saw smoke and a group of figures come in.
Then came the shots.
“I’m dead,” he said. “That was my last thought.”
Betton’s attorney and a judge signed off on a $25,000 bond agreement for Betton last month.
Prosecutors say Betton, who was armed, fired first- a claim Betton denies. Nonetheless, a prosecutor who reviewed the case said the shootings were justified.
Betton, who has a cocaine trafficking conviction in Ohio, was charged on June 29 with three counts of possession with intent to sell marijuana.
Police said they went to Betton’s apartment because they had twice recorded him selling marijuana to a confidential informant. According to court records, the informant bought 7 grams of pot from Betton on March 24 and 8 grams on April 7.
According to Betton, doctors said he was shot at least nine times receiving wounds to his stomach, legs and arms. He also suffered organ damage and spent weeks in a coma.
Kevin Brackett, the prosecutor who reviewed the case, described the event in a letter to SLED.
“The officers of the entry team all stated that almost immediately after entering the apartment Mr. Bretton (sic) appeared and confronted the officers by pointing the handgun at them. Indeed, on the audio portion of Officer Cox’s body camera, Mr. Bretton (sic) can be clearly heard acknowledging as much. He indicates that he did not mean to shoot them ‘if I did shoot.’ He did not fire his weapon but the fact that he did not is of no consequence. The officers were entitled to defend themselves from the moment he presented a danger to their lives by presenting his weapon.”
Bracket also said Betton kept an assault rifle in his home which was surrounded by closed-circuit cameras that would allow him to see who enters.
Still, some believe the shooting was an example of excessive force.
Jonny McCoy, a friend of Betton who practices law, investigated the case along with a private investigator.
“Selling 7 grams of marijuana is against the law,” McCoy said. “It’s a felony. Selling 8 grams of marijuana is felony and is against the law. But in my seven years of practice I’ve never seen such an extensive search warrant for such a little amount of weight.”