2011 Drug War Killings

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One Dead in Houston Drug Stakeout Shoot-Out

A Houston area drug stakeout turned into a violent melee Monday, leaving one man dead and one suspect and one undercover sheriff's deputy wounded. The as yet unidentified dead man becomes the 45th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Harris County sheriff's deputies (hcso.hctx.net)
According to a Houston Chronicle account relying on police sources, members of a multi-agency narcotics task force in northwest Harris County were watching a semi-trailer truck believed to contain drugs when several vehicles approached the semi and opened fire in an apparent bid to hijack it. The cops on the scene immediately began firing on the hijackers.

A man sitting in the cab of the semi was shot and killed during the fracas, the undercover sheriff's deputy was shot in the knee, and one of the hijackers was hit by a police car and injured after firing on police. A second sheriff's deputy was injured when his vehicle collided with an empty school bus as he raced to the scene.

Police at the scene refused to confirm that the dead man in the semi was a confidential informant. They also refused to identify the deputy who was shot because he was working undercover as part of a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.  

A sheriff's department spokesman at the scene said he did not know what kind of drugs were in the truck, but he added that several arrests had been made. No word yet on any charges, though.

Houston, TX
United States

Two More Drug War Deaths

An Atlanta-area man was killed in a drug raid over the weekend, and a coroner's report shows that a pregnant Georgia teenager died after trying to hide drugs during a traffic stop earlier this year. Dwight Person and Megan Long become the 43rd and 44th persons to die during US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

In East Point, Georgia, an East Point police officer shot and killed Person during a Friday afternoon narcotics raid at a suspected drug house. According to police, officers with the department's narcotics unit arrived at a home where they had previously purchased drugs. Seven people were inside.

"One of the people made a threatening move towards the officer and he ignored a verbal command to stop," said Lt. Chris Chandler. "Fearing for her safety, the officer fired one shot and hit the individual in the chest."

The victim, Dwight Person, was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police have not revealed whether they recovered any weapons or drugs, but they arrested seven people at the residence.

Person's mother, Verdelle Person, told My Fox Atlanta that her 54-year-old son was the father of two, a military veteran, and a gentle person. "Ain't no way in the world he would have fought with an officer. That's from the bottom of my heart. I'd stand on a stack of bibles. He wouldn't have fought no officer," she said. "He was a good hearted person. He was helping people and a lot of times I would tell him, you don't know those people. He said, mama they need help, the car broke down. He'd get out and help people anytime. That's the type of person he was. He wasn't an aggressive person, a mean person," said Person.

Person had just gone to visit his nephew at the address, family members said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now reviewing the shooting.

Person's killing has raised hackles in Atlanta, where police infamously shot and killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in a botched 2006 drug raid, and where the killings of young black men by police, including Joetavius Stafford, 19, who was shot and killed at a subway station October 15, have heightened police-community tensions.

Occupy Atlanta announced it was holding a protest march Monday against the "reckless and wanton police murders of fellow Atlantans" and police brutality in general. "With each passing month, many of Atlanta's residents, especially its African-American population, feel increasingly targeted by police," the group said in a press release. "The police continue to kill because they do not face the consequences of their actions."

The second drug war death, that of Megan Long, actually occurred in September. Long was hospitalized after a traffic stop while traveling with her mother and boyfriend, first losing the fetus she was carrying on September 2, then dying herself two days later. But the cause of death, a methamphetamine overdose, was not revealed until last week, when the coroner's office released a toxicology report.

According to Long's father, when Long, her mother, and her boyfriend were pulled over by police, Long's mother told her to hide a bag of meth, and she stuffed the drugs inside her vagina. Later that night, she began having seizure-like symptoms and died after being hospitalized.

In another media report, Long's father elaborated: "They had got pulled over and she stuffed a quarter ounce insider her and when they got here they were going to take it back out, but there wasn't anything left but a bag."

No charges have yet been filed in Long's case, but both the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Murray County District Attorney's Office are looking into it.

GA
United States

Trucker Shoots Self Before Roadside Pot Bust

[Editor's Note: Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to domestic drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing or death related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

A truck driver pulled over by a Texas state trooper apparently shot and killed himself before police found a load of marijuana in his truck's sleeper. The man, identified as Mason Burks of Springfield, Missouri, becomes the 42nd person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety
, Burks was driving north on US Highway 59 near Lufkin when he was stopped for a commercial inspection by Trooper Mike McClain. US 59 begins on the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas.

When McClain stepped up to the truck window, he heard a gunshot. McClain retreated and called for back-up.

When backup arrived, police found Burks, 46, dead of a gunshot wound to the chest. Troopers then found 603 pounds of pot in the sleeper of the truck cab.

Lufkin, TX
United States

Pennsylvania Drug Suspect Dead After Swallowing Baggie

[Editor's Note: Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to domestic drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing or death related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

A New Kensington, Pennsylvania, man being pursued by police died Saturday after he was seen swallowing a plastic bag suspected of containing illegal drugs. Curtis Patterson, 40, becomes the 41st person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Authorities told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Patterson had been pursued by police from various departments earlier in the evening and when he was finally stopped, police witnessed him swallowing the plastic bag. The contents of the baggie have yet to undergo lab analysis, but police say they suspect it is illegal drugs.

The Allegheny County medical examiner said the baggie obstructed Patterson's trachea, and he died of asphyxiation at 3:05am. The death is being ruled accidental.

The last six drug war deaths this year include two others who died after swallowing drugs, two who drowned trying to flee drug busts, and one man who stepped in front of a speeding semi-truck during a roadside drug bust.

Pittsburgh, PA
United States

Illinois Arrestee Swallows Drugs, Dies

In North Aurora, Illinois, man arrested by Chicago Police on drug charges last Wednesday night died after apparently swallowing the drugs while in custody. Kevin Davis, 47, becomes the 40th person to die in US domestic drug law operations so far this year.

Citing police sources, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Davis was arrested by police at 7:38pm. When he subsequently collapsed, he was taken to Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 9:28pm.

Harrison Area detectives were investigating. Which drugs Davis ingested is not known.

Davis's death come little more than a month after the city of Chicago paid $1.3 million to the family of another man who died in police custody after being arrested and swallowing drugs. The city settled after a police videotape showed officers neglected to aid the man as he struggled for life in the back of a paddy wagon.

Chicago, IL
United States

Alleged Rhode Island Marijuana Dealer Drowns Fleeing Cops

[Editor's Note: Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to domestic drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing or death related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

The Merrimack River at Lowell, Massachusetts (wikimedia.org)
A Coventry, Rhode Island man arrested on marijuana distribution charges by Lowell, Massachusetts, police died Friday when he jumped into the Merrimack River wearing handcuffs and drowned while attempting to flee. Luke Hammond, 23, becomes the 39th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Boston Herald, Hammond had been pulled over and arrested Friday evening on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and driving without a license. While officers waited for a police van to take him to jail, Hammond, who was already handcuffed, broke free and sprinted about 100 yards before leaping into the river.

Lowell Fire Department scuba divers found Hammond's body in the water about 45 minutes after he jumped in the river. He was taken to Lowell General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

"When he was found, he only had one hand in the cuffs," said Capt. Randall Humphrey, a Lowell Police Department spokesman. "He was in custody (at the time of his escape). He had been handcuffed and somehow was able to get one of his hands out. I would say he jumped into the river intentionally. I don't think he tripped and fell in," Humphrey said.

Lowell, MA
United States

Miami Man Drowns Fleeing Drug Bust

[Editor's Note: Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to domestic drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing or death related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

Margate Canal, Miami (wikimedia.org)
A Miami man drowned Saturday night attempting to flee a drug bust. Winston Gaskin, 23, becomes the 38th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to NBC-TV Miami, citing police sources, police responded to a call about narcotics activity at a convenience store on Northwest 19th Street. When an officer engaged attempted to engage Gaskin at the scene, he took off running and jumped into a canal. He only made it about half way across before he began struggling, then went under.

"The suspect swam for a little bit," before encountering trouble, said police spokeswoman Constance Stanley. "At that time, officers called paramedics and they assisted in pulling him out of the canal, performing CPR until paramedics arrived."

Gaskin was transported to Florida Medical Center in critical condition and was pronounced dead shortly before midnight.

"The police later found out that Mr. Gaskin did have an arrest warrant out for cocaine possession," Stanley said, "so that could be the reason that he fled."

Miami, FL
United States

Two More Drug War Deaths

[Editor's Note: Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to domestic drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing or death related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

The Las Vegas Metro Police K-9 unit is part of the state and federal Interdiction Team (Image: LVMPD)
In separate incidents this week, two more people have died during drug-related encounters with law enforcement. The two people, both as yet unnamed, become the 36th and 37th persons to die during US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

In Las Vegas, police reported that a man who had been caught transporting several pounds of methamphetamine was killed Tuesday night after he ran from police while handcuffed and jumped in front of a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 15. He was killed instantly.

[Editor's note: The Las Vegas victim was later identified as Andrey Cordero Rojas, 29.The second victim has yet to be named.]

Police had found 12 pounds of meth they valued at $300,000 in a hidden compartment in the man's vehicle after he was pulled over by the Interdiction Team, a multiagency task force composed of state and federal agents.

They said the man had been cooperating when he suddenly ran onto the highway's passing lane and stopped in front of the oncoming truck. "We're not sure what he was thinking," a police spokesman said.

In the second incident, in Chester, Pennsylvania, police reported that an as yet unidentified 41-year-old Delaware County man who ingested a "white chalk substance" after officers approached his car died of apparent cocaine poisoning.

Police said they were patrolling the neighborhood when they noticed "suspicious activity" in the car. The man in the car locked the doors, then began eating the substance and washing it down with "gulps" of water. He unlocked the doors after he was done ingesting the substance and was transported to a local hospital where he died.

NYPD Undercover Cop Kills Man Intervening in Drug Arrest

An NYPD undercover narcotics officer shot and killed a man who attempted to intervene during a street drug arrest Tuesday afternoon. John Collado, Sr., 43, becomes the 35th person to be killed in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the third in the past week.

According to police, the unidentified narc was trying to arrest a 23-year-old man selling drugs near the intersection of Post Avenue and Dyckman Street, when Collado intervened, putting the officer in a choke hold before the officer fired once, striking Collado in the abdomen. He died in a local hospital hours later.

In another report, police said the officer was breaking up a drug deal between Collado and the young man. "As the officer tried to arrest one of the suspects... the other suspect put the officer in a chokehold," that report said.

But Collado's son, John Collado, Jr., told New York City media outlets that his father was not involved in a drug deal. Instead, said Collado, Jr., he and his father were just walking by when they saw someone they knew being assaulted by an unidentified person.

"My dad's not a moron," he said. "If he would have identified himself as a cop, my dad would have stopped. He got shot in the stomach, trying to stop an unidentified cop in a scuffle with a civilian, a kid I grew up with, my dad's neighbor. He went to break it up, the cops shot him in the stomach, and he's in trauma," he said Tuesday. "They won't let me know anything that's going on."

NYPD said that the officer identified himself.

New York, NY
United States

Trapped Trooper Kills Minnesota Woman Fleeing Drug Bust

Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to domestic drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

Minnesota State Patrol cruiser (image via Wikimedia)
A Minnesota woman was shot and killed by a state trooper Saturday as she dragged him with her vehicle while attempting to flee a traffic stop that would have resulted in a drug bust. The woman, Debra Doree, 48, becomes the 34th person to be killed in domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the State Patrol,  the incident began as a routine traffic stop on I-94 Saturday afternoon when the unnamed trooper pulled Doree over for an "equipment violation." The trooper noticed a large amount of "a white crystalline substance" during their interaction and was investigating when Doree jumped back into her vehicle and tried to flee. The trooper's arm got tangled in the steering wheel as she drove off, and she dragged the trooper approximately 30 yards before he was able to unholster his weapon and shoot her. The trooper received minor injuries.

The white substance was later confirmed to be "a very substantial amount of narcotics," said State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske. It is not clear what the substance was.

Doree had no criminal record in Minnesota, but her husband, Scott Doree, 53, has numerous convictions, including several for possession of methamphetamine and marijuana.

The unnamed trooper has been put on paid leave pending an investigation of the incident by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is charged with investigating officer-involved killings in the state.

St. Paul, MN
United States

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