The wild-eyed nature of the drug war has produced a serious courtroom conundrum that could result in an innocent man being sent to prison. Last October, 32-year-old Joel Robinson of Columbia, South Carolina had no way of knowing that he was about to become the subject of a federal shakedown, so when heard what he feared was a home invasion, his gut reaction was to open fire and hope for the best.
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration had suspected Robinson was involved in a major PCP manufacturing operation, but apparently, their due diligence was a bit askew. After kicking down the door to Robinson’s home, all they ended up finding was a small amount of marijuana, but not before they were reigned down upon with a shower of bullets that resulted in the injury of DEA agent Barry Wilson.
While unfortunate, it is clear that agent Wilson would not have been shot had the DEA researched the situation in greater detail and not conducted a sneak attack on an innocent American fully prepared to defend his home. Yet, regardless of the common sense attached to this argument, Robinson was arrested and slapped with a myriad of charges, including conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance, assaulting individuals executing a search warrant, and using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, according to The State.
Robinson, whose criminal trial is expected to get underway this week, is screaming self-defense, arguing that he simply reacted in a manner that is typical of a person who is under attack in his home. The prosecution, however, will gun for blood in this case because while affirming that DEA agents announced themselves loud enough to make it clear who was inside the home, they argue that it is still against the law to shoot a federal agent – regardless if it is done under mistaken identity.
To make this case even more twisted, federal prosecutors are expected to do whatever it takes to get the jury to return a guilty verdict. Along with a desire to take revenge on an innocent man by forcing him to serve out a lengthy prison term in exchange for chipping the shoulder bone of an agent, they also intend to seize his house and the firearms they discovered during the raid.
Unfortunately, regular citizens are often held accountable for the consequences of law enforcement’s incompetence, but that does not mean Robinson is forever doomed. A similar case recently happened in Texas in which Henry Magee was found innocent after killing a member of a SWAT team in December 2013. Yet, as Magee’s attorney said: his case was the exception and not the rule.