David Hooks’s death reads like a boilerplate tale of a police raid gone wrong. Around 11 PM on September 24, deputies from the Laurens County, Georgia, sheriff’s department stormed their way into his house looking, they say, for meth.
A reported 16 shots later, the 59-year-old was dead, and naturally there are conflicting accounts about what happened. The cops claim Hooks brandished his shotgun at them when they came in; Hooks’s family’s lawyer says that the raid victim’s wife, Teresa, had seen cops in hoods lurking around the house and was worried they were robbers (the home had been burglarized only a couple nights before) and Hooks was merely worried about defending his property. No drugs or anything illegal was found in the home, according to the lawyer.
The complicating factor here is that the warrant was issued on the say-so of an informant, Rodney Garrett, who had stolen an SUV, a firearm, and—he claimed—a bag containing scales and 20 grams of meth from the Hooks residence. Garrett turned himself in and told the police about the alleged drugs, saying that he feared for his life.
The raid, then, can serve a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the war on drugs: a door busted down on what, in hindsight at least, was flimsy evidence; a search warrant that was seemingly signed off on and executed in a hurry; an operation that was unnecessarily militaristic. Whoever was at fault for Hooks’s death, the man himself seems completely blameless—if his wife’s account is accurate, he was merely defending himself against what he thought was a home invasion.