A Georgia SWAT team shot and killed an armed homeowner during a September 24 drug raid sparked by the word of a self-confessed meth addict and burglar who had robbed the property the previous day. No drugs were found. David Hooks, 59, becomes the 34th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.
Each year around four thousand Americans are killed by police but no one knows the exact number since it is not recorded in any database. I wrote an article on this very subject only recently called Why is There No Database For People Killed by Police.
Let’s not forget the young baby hit with a flash grenade in his crib earlier this year in Atlanta. Baby in Coma After Police ‘Grenade’ Dropped in Crib During Drug Raid on a similar type of warrant. The police also refused to pay medical bills which ran into tens of thousands. Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as “Baby Boo Boo,” spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team’s flash-bang grenade exploded in his face. The toddler was just 19 months old when officers executed a no-knock warrant on his family’s home, tossing the “less-lethal” device into his crib, WSBTV reported. He will be scarred for life from this false search.
The more information that is released in the Laurens county case, the more it begins to look like this man was murdered in cold blood his home by some over eager deputies who broke into his home with a knock and announce warrant. That basically means they knock once and immediately bust down your door with a huge battering ram. Also realize they were wearing all black with masks, there were no sirens or any warning at all that they were the police. Finally, this man had a vehicle stolen the day before so suspected the thieves were back. Who in their right mind would not think they were being robbed and try and protect his family if your car was just stolen? When the raiders burst through the back door of the residence, they encountered Hooks’ carrying a shotgun. Multiple deputies opened fire, shooting [and] killing Hooks. He never fired a single shot but it is reported deputies fired 16 shots into this man where he died in front of his family.
Attorney Mitch Shook alleges “abusive policing practices and suspicious events” before and after the death of 59-year-old David Hooks, who was shot multiple times during the execution of what the sheriff’s office called a “knock and announce” drug search warrant at his home on Ga. 319 at about 11 p.m. on Sept. 24. Shook also alleges the sheriff’s office misled the public in the initial news release that stated Hooks had a gun and “demonstrated aggression toward the deputies who executed the warrant.”
He also accuses Sheriff Bill Harrell of interfering with Shook’s investigation into Hooks’ death by curtailing an interview with an informant, who alleged he found drugs and paraphernalia in a vehicle on Hooks’ property.
In the application for the search warrant, Investigator Chris Brewer stated Rodney Garrett admitted he took a bag and digital scale from a pickup before stealing the Hooks’ Lincoln Aviator the night before the raid. So the guy that stole Mr. Hooks vehicle gave false information to the police that used that to get a search warrant for the victims home resulting in his death. “That search of some 44 hours conducted by numerous agents of the G.B.I resulted in not one item of contraband being found. He was not a drug user or a drug dealer” said Mitchell Shook.
Teresa Hooks, David’s wife released the following statement through her attorney:
We buried a great man yesterday. Our loss is devastating to our family and to our community. David was a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather who was a role model to his children, grandchildren, and numerous other friends and relatives.
We respect the Georgia Bureau of Investigations continuing their investigation into this tragic death. At the same time, we continue our own investigation. Our investigation is ongoing and we cannot divulge much at this time. We expect it to be a couple of months before the GBI’s investigation is complete. However, we want the public to know the true facts of this tragedy are in stark contrast to the media reports released by law enforcement at this time.
First, David Hooks was a successful businessman who owned two thriving businesses. His construction company worked on military bases, including Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart. As such, he was vetted and underwent background checks by state and federal authorities including the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Based on those background checks, he was granted a security clearance which allowed him to work on these military bases. He was not a drug user or distributor. Second after taking over the scene at around 11:55 p.m. on the 24th of September the GBI conducted a thorough search of the property that lasted until approximately 8:00 p.m. Friday, September 26th. That search of some 44 hours conducted by numerous agents with the GBI resulted in not one item of contraband being found! This has been confirmed to the family by the GBI and is evidenced by the return of the original search warrant which was finally filed in court on September 29th and indicates that nothing was seized pursuant to the search warrant.
At this point here is what the evidence shows and we must stress that we are very early in the investigation. On Monday, September 22nd or the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 23rd, David and Teresa Hooks home was burglarized and several items were taken from the property including a Lincoln Aviator vehicle. The burglary was committed by Rodney Garrett a meth addict. David Hooks reported the burglary and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into the same. After a brief investigation by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department, a warrant was issued for Garrett’s arrest at 3:45 p.m. on September 23rd. Approximately 24 hours later at 3:45 p.m., Rodney Garrett was taken into custody and confessed to the burglary and theft of motor vehicle, as well as other offenses.
On Wednesday, September 24th at 9:56 p.m., drug task force agent Chris Brewer made application for a search warrant before Faith Snell a non-attorney Deputy Magistrate of the Laurens County Magistrate Court. The facts submitted to Deputy Magistrate Snell to convince her that probable cause existed to issue the warrant consisted of the statement by Rodney Garrett a confessed burglar, thief, and a meth addict who was under the influence at the time of his arrest that the approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine, a digital scale, and 2 firearms found on him at the time of arrest had been stolen by him out of another vehicle at the Hooks home. Investigator Brewer also stated information he claimed came from an investigation involving Jeff Frazier. That investigation was in August 2009 over 5 years ago. A search warrant was issued at 9:56 p.m. by Judge Snell. This search warrant is invalid on its face as it does not comport with the requirements of the Constitution of State of Georgia nor the United States Constitution. Armed with an invalid search warrant and with less than an hour of preparation, at approximately 10:55 p.m. several members of the Drug Task Force and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Response Team arrived at David and Teresa Hooks home unannounced by emergency lights or sirens. There is no question the Officers were aware the home had been burglarized only two nights earlier.
David and Teresa were under the impression that the burglars were back and that a home invasion was eminent. David armed himself to protect his wife and his home. Despite the fact that the illegal search warrant did not have a “no knock” clause the Drug Task Force and SRT members broke down the back door of the family’s home and entered firing in excess of 16 shots. These shots were from multiple firearms and from both 40 caliber handguns and assault rifles. Several shots were fired through a blind wall at David with the shooters not knowing who or what was on the other side of the wall. The trajectory of the shots, coupled with the number of shots infers a clear intent on behalf of the shooters to kill David Hooks.
David was hit multiple times and ultimately died from the gunshot wounds he suffered. There is no evidence whatsoever that David Hooks fired a weapon. I must repeat this happened inside his home. There are other aspects to this case that we are continuing to investigate and search for answers. The family calls upon the District Attorney’s office to do its own investigation after receiving the GBI’s report regarding this matter and take whatever action the law and justice demands. The family calls on Sheriff W.A. “Bill” Harrell to immediately suspend all the individuals who participated in this tragedy from their law enforcement duties. Said individuals should remain on suspension until such time when the Georgia Bureau of Investigations has completed its investigation in this case, turned its report over to the District Attorney’s office, and the District Attorney’s office has taken whatever action it deems necessary in the interest of justice.
There is no question that the death of the Monroe county deputy recently was a terrible tragedy. He was given a hero’s funeral. Is the death of Mr. Hook’s any less tragic? Where are the thousands at his funeral? The murder of innocent people by police has to stop.