BURLESON COUNTY, TX — Tragedy struck when police pursued an aggressive no-knock, no-announce SWAT raid on a marijuana user with no history of violence in his record. One deputy was shot when the homeowner picked up a rifle to protect his family from what he thought were home invaders. The officer’s life is over and the homeowner will now face trial that could put him in prison for a long time because of a confrontation that never needed to happen.
A Rude Awakening
Henry Goedrich Magee, 28, was awoken from a sound sleep at around 5:50 a.m. to the sound of his front door being broken down, footsteps, and loud explosions. The intrusion jolted Magee out of bed and he grabbed a rifle that was kept in the bedroom he shared with his pregnant girlfriend for protection. What transpired on the morning of December 19th, 2013, would be a life-changing event for all involved.
Magee, without a moment’s hesitation, took aim at the shadowy figures that had crashed into his home. His shots fatally struck one of them.
The man who had just been mortally wounded was Burleson County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Sowders, a well-liked cop and firefighter. He was the only person wounded. What was he doing breaking into Magee’s house before dawn?
Sgt. Sowders, age 31, had been a part of a SWAT team performing a no-knock raid to enforce prohibition laws. The noises that had startled Magee were the sounds of eight deputies detonating concussion grenades and breaching his front door — all without actually knocking or announcing themselves.
The paramilitary team was on a mission to find illegal weeds, and were prepared to kill — or die — to prevent them from growing. They found some: two 6-inch sprouts and some seedlings. Apparently getting those plants off the streets means that the mission was a success.
Magee was arrested and his plants and legally-obtained firearms were confiscated. He was charged with capital murder and held on $1,000,000.00 bail.
Planning the Attack
Sowders himself had requested that officers serve the warrant “without first knocking and announcing the presence and purpose of officers.” The reasoning, in Sowder’s own opinion, was that approaching Magee — who had no violent offenses on his record — by knocking on the door during daytime hours would be “dangerous, futile, or would inhibit the effective investigation.”