Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Henry Magee, John Quinn, and the "Right of Resistance"

[The] constitutional security for `the right to keep and bear arms’ implies the right to use them … This is the only remedy suggested by the Constitution, and is necessarily the only remedy that can exist, when the government becomes so corrupt as to afford no peaceable one. The people have a legal right to resort to this remedy at all times, when the government goes beyond, or contrary to, the Constitution. And it is only a matter of discretion with them whether to resort to it at any particular time. –

Lysander Spooner, “The Right of Resistance," from "An Essay on the Trial by Jury" (chapter II).

Henry Magee was sleeping when armed intruders burst into his home at dawn last December 19. Knowing only that he and his family were at mortal risk, Magee grabbed a gun and opened fire, fatally wounding Sgt. Adam Sowders, who was part of a police task force carrying out a “no-knock warrant” in search of drugs.

Magee was arrested and charged with murder. On February 6, agrand jury in Burleson County, Texas declined to indict Magee, accepting his claim that he acted in self-defense because he believed his home was being burglarized. In defiance of recent trends, that grand jury vindicated the hope expressed by Lysander Spooner that such panels would recognize and honor the right of citizens to exercise lethal force in defending themselves against government lawlessness.

Adam Sowders was an irreplaceable human being whose family has been devastated by his death. It is a singular tragedy that Sowders died. It is compounded by the fact that Magee had a moral and legal right to kill him, just as he has the right to use deadly force in dealing with any other armed invader. 

Sowders’s death was not the result of a crime committed by the man who shot him, but rather of the criminal policy he was called upon to enforce.

Henry Magee’s case echoes an earlier one in which a resident of Texas was changed with a felony because he had tried to defend himself against a band of privileged home invaders.

Just after midnight on the morning of August 5, 2006, a SWAT team in McKinley, Texas used a battering ram to breach the front door of JohnQuinn’s home. The pretext for this crime was a warrant authorizing the police to search for narcotics allegedly in the possession of Quinn’s adult son, Brian. Awakened by the tumult, Quinn retrieved his rifle and went to confront the intruders. One of them, Officer Jesus Damian Guerrero, fired several shots in an attempt to murder the home owner.
McGee in custody.
The warrant named Brian Quinn, not his father, as the suspect, and it authorized a limited search of Brian's effects. Once Guerrero shot John, the cops had their excuse to search the entire home. Inside a safe they would not have been authorized to search, they found a minuscule amount of cocaine. 

Brian – who had no self-interested reason to say so – claimed that the cocaine was his, that his father had never used drugs, and was trying to help him overcome his drug habit.

Quinn, who suffered a relatively minor wound in his right hand, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer. A test in the hospital confirmed that he had no drugs in his system. After waiting five years for a trial,  Quinn was acquitted on the aggravated assault charge. He was later found “guilty” of possessing less than a gram of cocaine (a test conducted during Quinn’s hospitalization found no evidence of drugs in his system) and given two years’ probation and a $500 fine.

The most interesting contrast between the John Quinn case and that of Henry Magee is the near role-reversal between the costumed assailant and the defender: Where a grand jury refused to indict Magee for shooting the police officer who had barged into his home, in Quinn’s case it was the assailant, Officer Guerrero, who was “no-billed” by the grand jury.

Magee and his girlfriend.
The dismissal of the murder charge against Magee suggests that at least some Texas residents recognize that a police officer who breaks down a door and terrifies people in their bed is a common burglar and should be treated as such. This represents modest but welcome progress. 

For his part, Quinn is appealing a Texas Appellate Court ruling that authorizes police to commit paramilitary home invasions anytime they learn that a citizen at a targeted address has the means to defend himself.

As is generally the case when police mount a paramilitary raid, the warrant was issued on the basis of two informants – both of whom had admitted to “activity related to Brian's drug dealing” -- who told the cops that “Brian kept a number of weapons in the house, including an AK-47 rifle.” One of the informants, at the behest of the police, sent a text message to Brian asking to buy Xanax. 

In his affidavit, Detective Christopher Grollnek (a relentless self-promoter who has gone on to carve out a lucrative niche promoting the Regime's war on the American population) claimed that neither informant was offered a deal in exchange for helping to set up Brian. This was almost certainly a lie, given that neither of the informants was prosecuted: One saw his charges dropped before trial, the other was never charged. Quinn appealed his conviction, arguing that the no-knock raid was unjustified, and that the evidence seized from his office safe was the product of an invalid search.
Grollnek strikes a pose.
Communications among the officers at the time of the raid proved that they were aware that Brian wasn't at the residence. Thus they had no reason to conduct a raid, let alone one involving assault rifles and a battering ram. Assuming, for the purposes of this discussion, that drug use is a crime of some sort, the police could have waited for Brian to return, taken him into custody, knocked on the door, and conducted their search.

However, according to a genuinely deranged opinion handed down last May by the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, a military-style assault was justified because “the circumstances presented a threat of physical violence in this case, based upon the informants' statements that Brian kept a number of guns in the home.... Unannounced entries have been upheld as reasonable when the police had information there were guns on the premises to be searched.”

Officer Safety is the paramount consideration in all public policy, so the appellate court placed particular emphasis on the fact that some of the intrepid heroes who beat down Quinn's door at midnight “testified [that] the presence of an AK-47 particularly concerned the team, because the officers' body armor would not protect them from its shots.” The mere presence of the “exceptionally dangerous AK-47,” the court insisted, “made the no-knock entry reasonable under the existing circumstances.”

Only in a universe in which the rules of logic follow the contours of a Salvador Dali painting would that warrant be considered “reasonable,” if the objective had been to avoid unnecessary violence. 

The purpose of having firearms, as Lysander Spooner pointed out, was to use them in self-defense against “bandits” and “ruffians,” a category that includes anybody who kicks in a door at midnight, armed and prepared to do lethal harm to those who reside inside the home. Staging a police raid of that kind on a home where the residents are known to be armed is a reliable recipe for a shooting, a fact underscored by the tragically necessary death of Adam Sowders, and the near-murder of John Quinn.

Mr. Quinn has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. A richly documented and tightly argued amicus curiae brief filed on his behalf by the US Justice Foundation, Gun Owners Foundation, and several other public interest groups contends that the ruling by the appellate court in Texas “establishes a per se rule that, every time the police have a valid warrant, they can execute it without knocking, violating the Fourth Amendment at will,” if they discover that a resident has a legally owned firearm.

“If the police are now permitted to justify no-knock raids any time there is a firearm in the residence,” observes the brief, “no American home is safe from a terrifying, middle of the night home invasion.”

That state of affairs would suit the enforcement caste just fine – unless and until more victims respond with the tragic but justified efficiency of Hank Magee. If and when this happens, no rational and honest person should have any doubt as to which party is responsible.

An Update, and an Appeal 

Last September, I reported on a police riot in Idaho Falls that led to the invasion of two homes, acts of aggravated assault on several people (including a pregnant mother and a 79-year-old grandmother), and the filing of spurious charges against Victor and Delosanto Madrigal. 

All of this began when IFPD officers, led by Clark Lund, barged into the backyard of the Madrigal home (rather than knocking on the front door, like civilized people), then needlessly escalated a problem that could have been solved by a simple request. 

After the abduction of Victor and Delosanto, IFPD Chief Mark McBride wrote a libelous op-ed for the Post-Register newspaper in which he retailed unsubstantiated gossip about the family from a conveniently anonymous "source."

Victor and Delosanto, the victims, were charged with disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and assault on an officer. Last Friday (February 7), a jury in Idaho Falls rapidly acquitted Victor of all charges. Delosanto's trial is still pending, and there's reason to hope the prosecutor will simply drop the matter, as he damn well should. 

Thanks to a friend (and Pro Libertate reader) in Idaho Falls, I was able to travel there a couple of weeks after the incident. The story published here was picked up by Joyln Thomas of East Idaho News, who gave it prominent and effective local coverage. Apart from one decent story that prompted McBride's puerile little screed, the Post-Register lost interest in the matter. (I prepared a 450-word op-ed column on the incident that was rejected by the Post-Register's editorial page gatekeeper, who insisted that the case was no longer newsworthy.)  The local TV stations that had recited the dishonest police accounts of that episode were content to defame the victims, and then move on. 

I don't want to exaggerate my role in this, but I do want to impress on you the importance of what I'm doing -- and to share my satisfaction at this small but valuable victory on the part of liberty and decency. 

The state-aligned media rarely, if ever deals honestly with stories of this kind. I suspect that this is one reason why I've never been able to find gainful employment in the "legitimate" media.

As Rabelais -- or was it Voltaire? -- is said to have written in his last will and testament: "I have nothing, I owe much -- the rest I leave to the poor." I have bills coming due, and nothing coming in, and would really appreciate any help I could get. Thank you so much for reading what I publish -- and I will continue to do this for as long as it is financially feasible. God bless. 

Dum spiro, pugno!


MacK said...

I believe it was reported that a short time prior to this, a neighbor reported shots fired at the McGee residence, and a uniformed officer came to his door knocked and talked with him.

Shots fired knock and talk drugs may be present shock & awe.

Check Radley Balko (not sure that is where I read about it).

swiftfoxmark2 said...

It has definitely been a strange few weeks for juries. They seem to be exonerating people left and right.

This is why you never try to plead out a charge, no matter how small. Make the persecutor work for it. And always appeal to jury nullification, even if you get held in contempt of court.

AD said...

I'd like to say thank you for this site and keep up the good work. This type of information is few and far between.

Rich said...

The boys down at the station sure do like to get all dressed up and play tough guy when busting down the door of some addled meth head. But when someone returns fire, they sure do run for cover, and then whine to the courts about the meanie that shot back at them. Doesn't sound very "heroic" to me. Keep up the good work, LEO's. With each incident of your stupidity on display, public support erodes!

Fred said...

Overall a very good news article. One minor correct I believe is due however, is the photo labeled "Magee following the Grand Jury ruling". I have read elsewhere that Magee has been denied bail, so while this photo correctly shows Magee and his pregnant girlfriend, if the other reports of his bail denial are correct, then this photo could not have been taken after the ruling. But like I said, I'm just picking a nit here, as otherwise this is a very good article which I will be forwarding to my gun owners list. Thanks for writing and reporting.

On a side note, since you are a truth teller, you will never be employed by the lamestream media, as they have no interest in truth. If you want to be employed as such, consider contacting all alternative media sources for potential employment. If I operated one such media source - I don't - I'd hire you as a reporter.

peck2 said...

The warranted death of deputy Sowers is NOT a tragedy. It is the necessary justice that must be meted out to all home intruders, whether costumed or not.

Francisco said...

The death of that deputy was indeed a tragedy and you know what he still be alive now if that search was conducted in proper police manner instead of paramilitary raid

I mean how hard is it to get a warrant and knock on the door and say sir we have reason to there might be narcotics in your home show warrant get in investigate finds nothing apologizes then leaves.

Today how ever its kick the door down no warrant para military searches which can cost cops there lives. As this article shows

Anonymous said...

If they did it the way you describe, then they couldn't justify to the public the need for more of the military-type equipment they employ, thus the tax money it takes to buy all that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Who are the criminals and who are the bad guys (rhetorical):


Grog said...

William, regarding this sentence: "It is compounded by the fact that Magee had a moral and legal right to kill him, just as he has the right to use deadly force in dealing with any other armed invader."

I don't wish to appear as if I'm telling you how to write, but wouldn't the word lawful be a better choice than legal to detail the right to self defense that we Citizens still have a percentage of?

William N. Grigg said...

Grog, I'm grateful for any constructive criticism or feedback, and you make a valid point. I used the word "legal" because there is a long line of precedents reaching back to the Supreme Court's Bad Elk v. US ruling recognizing the right of citizens to use lethal force in self-defense against unlawful police aggression.

Such action by a citizen is not only lawful -- meaning an exercise of a natural right -- but also legal -- meaning that it is recognized as valid by government "authorities." I'm not sure that's how other people define that distinction, and I'm sorry if my choice resulted in confusion.

Grog said...

Thanks for the clarification, I wasn't sure of the background info you were presenting.

Unfortunately, the .gov "authorities" only give lip service to the recognition of the Rights we still partially have, otherwise there would be a lot more cases with this outcome which means the cops wouldn't be doing the no knock raids like this, or there would be a lot more info to post on policemisconduct.net

Anonymous said...

Someone should tell esteemed party member Comrade Commissar potHolder or President Messiah the one about this.
The injustice would be smited down in seconds by the greatest human being ever to walk the face of the earth, Chicago Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Thank you for writing and posting it.

Such abuse by (agents of) the state (police) will only, unfortunately, continue to increase as the militarization of the police (state) continues.

Anyone breaking down my door will be met with violence of action in the form of 9 pellets of 00 lead aimed for the head. Period. I don't care what gang of thugs they belong too, or what colors they're flying, even if it's blue or black with white lettering.

Also, consider this: The members of a Mexican Drug Cartel were wearing the typical gear for members of the real Phoenix SWAT Team: black boots, black BDU pants, Kevlar helmets and Phoenix Police Department (PPD) raid shirts pulled over their body armor.


Anonymous said...

More protecting and serving:


Anonymous said...


Good Samaritan Backfire - or - How I Ended Up in Solitary After Calling 911 for Help

Anonymous said...

They will protect and serve the shit out of you:


Anonymous said...

More this time from a page on the other side of the false left/right paradigm:


Anonymous said...


William N. Grigg said...

Thank you for the tip -- and I've corrected the five misspellings in the original post.

Assuming that you can find, and disable, the caps lock key, I'd appreciate your help in locating any further typos. Thank you!