LAWRENCEVILLE - A man shot in a struggle with police during a drug raid at a house in Lawrenceville was apparently conducting an illegal narcotics trade there, according to preliminary hearing testimony Thursday.
Police received information about Daniel Thomas Nickeson from several confidential informants in April and subsequently placed his home under surveillance on May 9. Officers with the Gwinnett County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force also sorted through trash outside the house at 1087 Wildwood Lane that day and found a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to an undercover officer who testified at the hearing.
Gwinnett County Police S.W.A.T. team members assisted the drug task force in serving a "no-knock" search warrant to forcibly enter the house on May 10. They used a metal ram to breach the door and concussion grenades to take occupants of the house by surprise. Officers encountered five people in various rooms.
Sgt. J. McClure confronted Nickeson in the hallway and ordered him to get down, but Nickeson continued to approach, according to testimony by Gwinnett Police Detective S.K. Shaw at the hearing. Nickeson put his hands on the barrel of McClure's rifle and he was shot in the calf when the firearm accidentally discharged during a brief struggle,
Nickeson was treated and released at Gwinnett Medical Center and then transported to the Gwinnett County Detention Center.
Subsequent investigation at the house revealed Nickeson had an office set up in one of the bedrooms to conduct his "business," the undercover officer said. He also reportedly had two surveillance cameras monitoring activities outside the home.
Officers found a large amount of methamphetamine, a small amount of marijuana and various prescription narcotics inside. The undercover officer did not know the exact amount of the drugs seized, however he estimated far more than the legal threshold for a drug trafficking charge of 28 grams of methamphetamine were in the house and there was approximately 13 grams of marijuana as well.
Police also found a handgun under Nickeson's desk and a rifle in the office closet.
Nickeson's attorney, Rob Greenwald, argued that the fact Nickeson approached the officer and touched the weapon didn't mean he was trying to grab it away for any deadly purpose. Students in Tiananmen Square, a peaceful demonstration in China in 1989, only touched guns to put a flower in the barrel, Greenwald said.
However, Magistrate Judge Mark Layng wasn't buying that logic.
"I wouldn't compare this to Tiananmen Square. ... What was he trying to do? Was he trying to buy the gun? Was he admiring the way the officer was holding it?" Layng said.
Layng found probable cause to bind over a variety of charges against Nickeson including drug trafficking, drug possession and attempting to remove a firearm from a police officer.