MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The man who was shot and paralyzed by Myrtle Beach police during a 2015 drug raid is pushing for the city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
Julian Betton doesn’t want anyone else to suffer the pain that he has since April 2015.
“I just hope it’s something that they actually take a look at and check statistically across the country,” he said. “They can see that this is actually something that’ll help, instead of hurt.”
Drug enforcement units raided Betton’s home, fired 57 shots and 9 of them hit him. He’s paralyzed and attorneys say it was all over $100 worth of marijuana.
That’s why Betton, who won $11.25 million in settlements, says Myrtle Beach’s laws need to change.
“If we can get something passed and it helps save us some money, or actually help make us some money, and it brings a peaceful resolution to a lot of stuff that would avoid a lot of criminal activity, that would be great,” said Betton.
Betton’s lawyer Jonny McCoy wrote up a proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the city. Marijuana would still be illegal, but anyone accused of having 28 or fewer grams would be given a citation ticket, instead of going to jail. The current punishment of up to 30 days in jail or a $200 fine would be reduced to either a $100 fine or 10 hours of community service.
McCoy says the proposed ordinance would reduce fear of police in the community and allow officers to avoid processing unnecessary arrests.
“These officers can use their resources more wisely and effectively because these officers, go talk to them, they don’t want to be arresting people and taking them to jail for medicine they use in other states,” he said.
City council member Gregg Smith says he hasn’t decided if it’s a good idea, but it’s worth looking into.
“I’m not a lawyer,” he said. “I’m not sure whether this ordinance would be legal for the City of Myrtle Beach to enact. That’s something that we got to research.”
Betton, who met with city leaders Sunday, says he’ll be hurt if his criminal justice reform isn’t adopted.
“After everything, after meeting with the mayor and everybody, I would feel like that was a spit in the face,” Betton said.
Mayor Brenda Bethune says Myrtle Beach is researching similar ordinances in other cities and will discuss the proposal with city council and the police chief.