Deputies recount involvement with 2015 Ricky Keeton ‘no-knock’ raid
Monroe County deputies and the sheriff say they were ready to take the case to court
MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has settled a lawsuit filed by the family of a man killed during a drug raid in 2015.
The family of Ricky Keeton had sued the county, over the death of Keeton, who was shot after he pointed a gun at officers who were serving a no-knock warrant.
“There’s been nobody more ready to go and get this thing behind them, they’ve had to look back on the fact they had to shoot a man, nobody went there that night wanting to hurt anybody,” said Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook.
Sheriff Crook says officers involved in the drug raid on Ricky Keeton’s home the night of October 28th, 2015, have wanted to tell their side of the story, but could not because of a lawsuit filed by Keeton’s family. At the time of the raid, the department was led by Sheriff Cecil Cantrell.
On that night, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department had the warrant to search Keeton’s mobile home for drugs. The no-knock warrant allowed deputies to try and breach the door, without knocking first. Those who were present that night, in the team, also referred to as the “Stack” recalled the events as they quickly unfolded.
“My job was to run the ram, and I hit the middle of the door twice, to create a crease in the door for Sam, he had a pry bar, and his job was to pry the door open. Within a brief few seconds, we got the door opened, once we got the door opened, Mr. Keeton was standing there with a handgun in his hand, with a light, I didn’t understand what he said, but he was pulling the trigger, at that point, I put the ram down, got out of the way, of other officers returning fire,” said Capt. John Bishop.
Captain John Bishop was a lieutenant the night the warrant was served on the Keeton home. He and others who were there say officers were identifying themselves as the raid unfolded.
“When he hit the door, the first time to crease it, I started yelling, sheriff’s department, sheriff’s department, it’s just a habit, if you get an alarm call and get to a house and there’s a door opened, you announce yourself before you walk in, it’s just a habit,” said Patrol Capt. Sam Mitchell.
Deputies on the scene that night say Keeton fired several rounds from his handgun, which was a pellet gun. A photo of the gun, with the tactical light attached, was taken by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, where Keeton dropped it.
“He yelled something and shot, I know he shot three times, I know that, I yelled gun, dropped the tool, drew my firearm, somehow got the door shut, and started returning fire,” said Mitchell.
Keeton died from his wounds and agents with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics found a felony amount of meth in the trailer.
Keeton’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Monroe County. Attorney Jim Waide represents the Keeton family. Recently, attorneys for the county’s insurance company agreed to settle the case, paying the Keeton family $690,000. Waide says the main issue was the use of the no-knock warrant.
“A ‘no-knock’ is a search where officers go in breaking in without any prior notice, they may be yelling sheriff’s office, at the time but it can’t be heard over all the commotion going on. So homeowner such as Ricky Keeton wakes up, thinks somebody is breaking into his home and does the natural thing that ninety percent of Mississippians would do, go to the door armed,” Waide said.
Sheriff Kevin Crook said there are instances when no-knock warrants are justified. He also said deputies undergo continuous training and update their tactics as needed.
“These guys go there, do it exactly like they’re trained to do, a door opens, and a guy is standing there with a gun firing. That’s the facts, and that’s why we weren’t willing to settle as a department on nothing, we knew the guys didn’t do anything wrong,” Sheriff Crook said.
A Grand Jury cleared officers involved in the raid of any wrongdoing.
The official settlement and indemnification agreement can be found here