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California Man Gets $2.75 Million Settlement From U.S. Government; Informant's False Tip Leads to Shootout in Drug Raid


January 1995

A San Diego computer executive received a $2.75 million compensation settlement from the federal government for injuries he sustained in a raid on his home (Reuters, Dec. 15, 1994; Associated Press, Dec. 15, 1994; Peter Katel, "The Trouble With Informants," Newsweek, Jan. 30, 1995, p. 48).

The U.S. Customs Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, acting on the unconfirmed tip of a government informant, broke into Donald Carlson's home in August 1992 looking for drugs. Carlson was awakened to the agents breaking down his door. Believing that burglars were breaking into his home, he found his revolver and shot twice through the door, injuring one agent. Carlson then ran back toward his bedroom. Agents broke down the door and shot him three times.

The informant, Ronnie Edmond, has been convicted of making false statements to federal agents in this case. He told agents that they would find 5 1/2 tons of cocaine in two San Diego houses. No drugs were found.

"This brings to conclusion a very painful chapter of my life," Carlson said. "But it does not make up for what I went through."

Carlson was in intensive care for six weeks. He still suffers from injuries associated with the gunshot wounds to his arm, thigh and chest. He has permanent lung damage and limited motion in one arm.

In 1994 the Drug Enforcement Administration spent $31.7 million, and the U.S. Customs Service spent $16.5 million paying informants. An unnamed senior Justice Department official estimates there are thousands of professional informants.