The careless use of SWAT teams in no-knock drug raids — when heavily armed police burst into a home without warning — has resulted in a long list of innocent people being killed or seriously injured in the United States. 2014 alone found SWAT teams in Georgia senselessly killing businessman David Hooks and maiming toddler Bounkham “Baby Boo Boo” Phonesavanh. And when those raids victimize people who aren’t even selling drugs, narcotics officers seldom face criminal charges and are given every benefit of the doubt. But if, on the other hand, Americans shoot narcotics officers during militarized drug raids—perhaps believing that they are being robbed and are acting in self-defense—charges of first-degree murder are likely. The case of Marvin Louis Guy in Texas is a glaring example.
Guy, an African-American man who is now 50, was the target of a no-knock drug raid on May 9, 2014. Narcotics officers, operating on a tip from an informant who claimed that Guy was selling bags of cocaine, carried out a SWAT raid on his home in Killeen, Texas at around 5:30 AM—and Guy grabbed his gun and opened fire. Charles Dinwiddie, one of the officers, was hit and died two days later. Guy was charged with capital murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty despite his assertions that he thought he was acting in self-defense. Guy’s trial is scheduled for June of this year.
No drugs were found during a search of Guy’s home, only a glass pipe and a grinder—which indicates that Guy was, at worst, a recreational drug user and not a drug dealer. Journalist Radley Balko, author of the 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, has commented on the case in the Washington Post, saying: “The fact that the police didn’t find any drugs in the house suggests that Marvin Louis Guy didn’t know he was shooting at cops. Drug dealer or no, unless he had a death wish, it’s unlikely that a guy would knowingly fire at police officers when he had nothing in the house that was particularly incriminating.”
This should not be a partisan issue.