An Orangeburg County man who shot and injured a federal agent during a surprise raid outside his home last fall was sentenced to prison Monday.
33-year-old Joel Robinson received an eight year sentence with three years supervised release and must pay more than $82,500 to cover Drug Enforcement Administration agent Barry Wilson’s medical bills. Robinson had pleaded guilty back in February to shooting Wilson as the agent gathered with others to execute a search warrant on Robinson’s Orangeburg home.
Robinson’s attorneys had previously argued he did not realize the men gathering outside his Orangeburg home were law enforcement. Prosecutors said the agents had announced their presence and Wilson was wearing a vest labeled “Police.”
“This defendant shot an agent even though the agent was wearing a vest that clearly displayed the word “POLICE” in large, bold letters,” Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn said in a statement. “Instead of returning fire, the agents took the defendant into custody without further incident. Their poise under fire reminds us of the challenges that law enforcement agents face every day while serving and protecting the community.”
Defense attorney Jim Griffin said Robinson had used marijuana shortly before the raid and may not have been fully aware of what was occurring. His attorneys noted he surrendered immediately after shooting Wilson.
The State newspaper reported Robinson was facing 30 years to life if a jury had found him guilty in the shooting. But prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges against Robinson, including manufacturing and distributing illegal drugs, if he pleaded guilty to shooting Wilson. No drugs were found in Robinson’s house during the raid, the paper reported.
Federal prosecutors said they linked Robinson to a burned house in Georgia that they believe had operated as a large, clandestine phencyclidine (“PCP”) laboratory. Fifteen months later, DEA agents executed a search warrant at Robinson’s Orangeburg home for chemicals used to manufacture PCP. When the agents entered, Robinson grabbed a laser-sighted pistol and fired it into a wall.
Prosecutors said Robinson then walked to a door leading out to a swimming pool, and opened it. He then activated the laser sight on his weapon and aimed it at Wilson and another agent standing in the pool area. The bullet struck Wilson in his arm. Robinson then surrendered without any additional shots fired.