D.S.C.: Delegating to Drug Enforcement Unit how it executes no-knocks was municipal policy, MSJ denied

The Drug Enforcement Unit’s de facto policy not to properly knock-and-announce as a municipal policy survive defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic during the no-knock entry. Plaintiff alleged that the DEU essentially failed to knock-and-announce at will, without regard to legal requirements. The city let the DEU to decide what to do and didn’t control them. Betton v. Knowles, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132263 (D.S.C. Aug. 7, 2018):

The Magistrate Judge also addressed the municipal liability claims against the City in the second part of the Report related to the practices of the DEU. (ECF No. 173 at 32.) The Magistrate Judge specifically responded to Plaintiff’s allegations that Myrtle Beach is liable for the DEU’s purported practice of violating the Fourth Amendment knock and announce rule in that it delegated its drug enforcement and policymaking authority to the DEU governing board. (ECF No. 173 at 33-34.) The Magistrate Judge analyzed the relevant statutory provisions to recommend a finding by the Court that Myrtle Beach and Chief of Police Warren Gall have “final policy making authority” over the DEU by virtue of its agreement with the DEU and Chief Gall’s appointment to the DEU governing board. (ECF No. 173 at 36.) The Magistrate Judge concluded that a reasonable jury could find that both Myrtle Beach and Chief Gall had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged widespread practice or custom of executing standard search warrants without first knocking and announcing. (ECF No. 173 at 40.) In sum, the Magistrate Judge acknowledged that a reasonable jury could conclude that the Myrtle Beach’s failure to address and correct the alleged deficiencies in the DEU search warrant policies and practices exhibited deliberate indifference for which Myrtle Beach was responsible. (ECF No. 173 at 43-45.)

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