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Lawsuit over fatal Laurens County drug raid headed to federal appeals court

David Hooks' widow argues that the search warrant and 2014 drug raid were illegal and never should have happened.

DUBLIN, Ga. — A lawsuit over a Laurens County man who was shot to death in his home during a failed drug raid moves to a federal appeals court this summer.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for the week of July 22 on the lawsuit by the victim's widow, Teresa Hooks.

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Her wrongful-death suit argues that the search warrant and drug raid by Laurens County officers were both illegal and never should have happened.

She said the search warrant was based on false information from a known drug addict.

On Sept. 24, 2014, deputies with a search warrant stormed the Hooks' home outside east Dublin around 11 p.m. 

They shot and killed David Hooks as he ran naked toward the front door, holding a shotgun.

Bill Harrell, who was the Laurens County sheriff in 2014, said the raid was based on a tip from an informant that David Hooks was dealing methamphetamine.

But searchers found no drugs at the home.

Teresa Hooks is suing Harrell and two other officers.

Last year, Dudley Bowen, a federal judge based in Dublin, rejected the three officers' motion to decide the lawsuit in their favor.

The judge wrote that chief investigator Chris Brewer may have lied and omitted key facts more than a dozen times when he applied for a search warrant.

Bowen's order does not flatly state that Brewer or Harrell lied before or after the raid. But the judge raised many questions about their credibility that, he said, a jury should decide.

Last year, defendants Harrell, Brewer and Steve Vertin appealed that ruling to the federal appeals court. 

Their lawyers list 10 alleged errors by Bowen -- for example, "The District Court erred in determining that the search warrant application lacked probable cause."

Judges requested oral arguments to resolve the case and, this week, scheduled the hearing for July.

The lawsuit argues that Harrell had "personal resentment" against David Hooks and planned to use the raid to seize his assets.

Harrell was defeated for re-election in 2016 after 13WMAZ reported that he admitted, under oath, releasing false information about the case.

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