Breaking News:URGENT: Call Congress TODAY to Save DC Marijuana Legalization!

2012 Drug War Killings

RSS Feed for this category

Iowa City Man Killed in Undercover Drug Operation

Members of the Johnson County Drug Task Force conducting an undercover operation at a run-down trailer park just outside the Iowa City city limits shot and killed one man and wounded another last Thursday evening. Ivan Carl Hardemon, 24, becomes the 43rd person to die in US domestic drug law operations so far this year.

Police are releasing few details of what actually happened, but a Department of Public Safety press release said two state agents with the Division of Narcotics Enforcement assigned to the task force were conducting an undercover operation at a trailer in the park when "an altercation ensued and shots were fired," leaving Hardemon dead and another man, Demarco Dudley, wounded.

The passive-voice press release very carefully does not say whether Hardemon or Dudley fired shots, nor does it make any mention of weapons or drugs recovered at the scene. Police said they would not release more information until their investigation is completed.

The shooting left neighbors uneasy. Patty Krueger, who lives nearby, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen she no longer felt safe in the neighborhood.

"I have kids at home, I don't like the fact that the neighborhood's been disrupted like this," Krueger said. "I've felt safe out here for the last few years and now it doesn't seem like it's safe anymore."

Update: In a later report, undercover police said Hardemon and Dudley attempted to rip them off when they showed up with a large sum of money to buy drugs and gunfire was exchanged.

Iowa City, IA
United States

New Orleans Police Officer Indicted in Drug Raid Killing

In an unusual step, the New Orleans police officer who shot and killed an unarmed young man during a March drug raid aimed at small-time marijuana distribution has been indicted on manslaughter charges. Officer Joshua Colclough was indicted last Thursday and turned himself in for booking the following day.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/wendell-allen-200px.jpg
Wendell Allen (family photo)
Colclough shot and killed Wendell Allen, 20, as he served a search warrant at Allen's Gentilly residence. Colclough encountered Allen at the top of a stairway in the house and shot him once in the chest. No weapon was found.

Allen was the 15th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year. The death toll is now at 42 and will go to 43 later today when we post an article about the latest drug war killing, this one in an Iowa City drug raid late last week.

No officers have been indicted in any of those deaths. And despite drug war deaths at the rate of more than one a week in recent years, no police officers have been indicted in any of those incidents since an Ohio police officer was indicted in the killing of an unarmed woman and the wounding of the baby she was holding during a January 2008 SWAT raid. That officer was indicted on two misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide and negligent injury, but later acquitted.

The unusual indictment in the Allen killing came after the shooting generated outrage in the city, including threats from the Louisiana Justice Institute to sue the city if it did not release information about the case and take it to a grand jury. It also comes at a police department that just last month agreed to comprehensive reforms under the eye of the US Justice Department as a result of a pattern of misconduct in the department.

Officer Colclough spent the weekend in jail under a $300,000 bond. A bail reduction hearing was set for Monday.

New Orleans, LA
United States

Three More Drug War Deaths

Three more people have died in drug war-related incidents in recent days, including a police officer. They are the 40th, 41st, and 42nd persons to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Last Saturday, NYPD officers shot and killed Darius Jennings, 51, in an incident that began when they spotted him apparently smoking marijuana in Times Square. Jennings became agitated when police approached and pulled out a knife. He refused orders to drop the weapon and began backing down the street for seven blocks, followed by a growing contingent of police and spectators. Police pepper-sprayed Jennings repeatedly before they said he lunged at them and two officers shot him a total of 12 times.

Last Sunday, a Las Cruces, New Mexico, man died two days after swallowing a plastic bag containing cocaine as he was being booked into the Dona Ana County Jail. Hemilo Salcedo, 57, had been arrested on a warrant charging him with two counts of drug trafficking and was changing from civilian clothes to a prisoner's uniform when a jailer noticed part of a plastic bag protruding from his rectum. The jailer told him to remove it himself, and when Salcedo did, he immediately put it in his mouth and swallowed it. The jailer ordered him to spit it out, then noticed he was choking and attempted unsuccessfully to dislodge the baggie. Salcedo died at a local hospital two days later. Police said the bag contained three grams of cocaine and may have contained more.

On Monday night, Puerto Rican police officer Wilfredo Ramos Nieves was shot and killed as he took part in a drug raid with six other officers in Bayamon. The 15-year veteran was shot twice when police saw an armed man and attempted to detain him. The shooter opened fire instead, fatally wounding Ramos Nieves before being shot and wounded by police. He and a companion fled, but were later arrested. Ramos Nieves is the third Puerto Rican officer to be killed in the line of duty this year and the second one killed because of drug law enforcement.

Arizona SWAT Team Kills Man in Drug Raid Shootout

A Phoenix-area SWAT team shot and killed one man during a "dynamic entry" (break the door down) drug raid early last Thursday morning after the raiders were met with gunfire. The as yet unidentified man becomes the 39th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the third one in the past week.

Police told ABC 15 News the raid in a Phoenix neighborhood was undertaken by the Surprise, Arizona, police SWAT team. Team members were met with gunfire from multiple sources as they attempted to make entry into the residence. They responded with gunfire of their own, killing one of the men in the house.

ABC 15 News reported that the purpose of the raid was unclear, but Policemag.com, which bills itself as a "community for cops," reported that police were serving a drug search warrant. It was also Policemag.com that described the raid as a dynamic entry raid.

There is no word yet on what happened to the other alleged shooters in the house, nor have police mentioned what, if anything, they found in the house. No police were injured in the raid.

Phoenix, AZ
United States

Police Kill Miami Man in Marijuana Grow House Shootout

A Miami man who police said engaged them in a shootout as they knocked on the door of a home to investigate a possible marijuana grow was shot and killed by police last Tuesday night. Gerardo Delgado, 56, becomes the 38th person to be killed in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Miami Herald, relying on police sources, Miami-Dade police and FBI agents arrived at the Coral Way home and went to the front door at about 7:00pm. Neighbors said the police were not in uniform.

When the police arrived at the front door, according to a police spokesman, Delgado opened fire on them from a nearby parked car, striking one of the officers three times before being shot and killed. That officer is in stable condition.

A second man with Delgado was arrested. There is no word yet on whether there actually was a marijuana grow at the house.

Police swarmed the scene in the aftermath of the shooting. One neighbor said he saw at least 30 police cars filling up the neighborhood. Another neighbor found the shoot-out and massive police response in the quiet residential neighborhood disconcerting.

"I've never seen this before," said Carlos Rios, 45, who lives on the block. "This is a family-type neighborhood. We're all in shock at all this."

Miami, FL
United States

Handcuffed Marijuana Arrestee Shot, Killed in Police Car

A Southhaven, Mississippi, man arrested for marijuana by police in nearby Jonesboro, Arkansas, was shot and killed as he sat handcuffed in the back of a squad car Saturday. Chavis Carter, 21, becomes the 37th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Chavis Carter (facebook.com)
According to KAIT-8 TV, citing police sources, Carter was a passenger in a pick-up truck pulled over by police Saturday night. Officer Keith Baggett searched the vehicle, while Officer Ron Marsh searched Carter. Marsh found "some marijuana" and some plastic baggies on Carter. When police ran Carter's name through dispatch, they learned he was wanted on a drug warrant from De Soto County, Mississippi.

Carter was sitting in the police car, and when police learned he had an outstanding warrant, Marsh had Carter "exit the patrol unit, placed him into handcuffs, searched him a second time then placed him into the back seat of the patrol unit."

As the two officers walked back toward the police car, Officer Baggett said a car passed and then he heard "a loud thump with a metallic sound." After questioning and releasing the other two men, Officer Marsh reportedly returned to his vehicle while Officer Baggett said he prepared to leave the scene. He then heard "several thumps" on his trunk and saw Officer Marsh motioning for him and saying that Carter had shot himself.

They opened the rear passenger door and found him in a "sitting position slumped forward with his head in his lap." According to Officer Marsh, Carter's hands were still cuffed behind his back and small-caliber handgun was found beside him.

Jonesboro Police Sgt. Lyle Waterworth told WREG-TV in nearby Memphis that Carter had been searched, but that searches don't always find everything. "As protocol he was handcuffed behind his back and double locked, and searched”, said Waterworth, "Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun."

Officers Baggett and Marsh are on administrative leave pending an investigation, but the police are leaning toward the theory that Carter shot himself with a gun they had missed while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

His mother, Teresa Carter, isn't buying it. "I think they killed him, my son wasn't suicidal," she said.

She said Chavis had called his girlfriend while being pulled over to say that he would call her from jail. She also said police told her Chavis had been shot in the right temple, but that he was left-handed.

Jonesboro, AR
United States

Two More US Drug War Deaths

An Indianapolis man died of cocaine poisoning while being arrested in May and a Massachusetts man was shot and killed Sunday night by police who claimed he was trying to run them down in a bid to escape an attempted drug arrest. Anton Butler and Brandon Payne become the 35th and 36th persons to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Although a cause of death was not revealed until last week, Anton Butler of Indianapolisdied after being hit with a stun gun during a drug arrest on May 1. According to the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Butler, 28, died after he was spotting making a drug deal by two off-duty deputies. As the deputies approached, Butler shoved drugs in his mouth and ran. The deputies caught up with Butler and used a stun gun to subdue him, but he soon began foaming at the mouth before becoming unconscious. He was pronounced dead at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. A report released last Thursday showed Butler died from sudden cardiac arrest due to acute cocaine intoxication.

In Lynn, Massachusetts, police shot and killed Brandon Payne, 23, after they said he slammed his car into an unmarked police car as he tried to escape a motor vehicle stop after police witnessed him and his passengers engaging in activities that "may have been either using drugs or waiting to purchase or sell drugs."

According to the Essex County District Attorney's Office
, police tried to stop Payne's car and another vehicle. "Officers approached and both vehicles backed up and rammed into an unmarked vehicle," the DA's office explained. "Fearing for their lives, shots were fired… The driver, Brandon Payne, was struck by gunfire." He died the following morning at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Three other men involved in the incident were charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (the cars) and unlawful possession of firearms. A fourth man got away.

The district attorney's office is investigating the legal justifiability of the police-involved shooting. The three officers and a state trooper involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is complete, in line with standard Lynn Police Department and Massachusetts State Police policy, and the investigation remains active and ongoing.

Five More US Drug War Deaths

At least five people have been killed in the drug war on America's streets in the past few weeks. They become the 30th through the 34th persons to die in US domestic drug law operations so far this year.

While we try to publish these stories in a timely fashion, it doesn't always work out that way because initial news or police accounts fail to provide adequate detail. In the two cases below from May, for example, the drug war link became apparent only with the release of a toxicology report in one instance and the release of court documents in the other.

In Sonora, California, James Jones died in police custody on May 3 after swallowing an eight-ball (3.5 grams) of methamphetamine while being searched at the Toulomne County Jail upon being arrested for outstanding warrants. When Jones was taken to the jail, deputies found a glass pipe, prompting them to strip-search him. They observed a white object in his mouth, but when they told him to spit it out, he swallowed it instead. He was then rushed to the hospital, but died of the methamphetamine overdose. A toxicology report released last week showed he had about 16 times the potential fatal level of meth in his system.

In Miami, Sergio Javier Azcuy was shot and killed on May 17 by Miami-Dade police who had set up a fake cocaine rip-off, then staged a traffic accident to corral the vehicle in which he was traveling. Azcuy, 46, was the passenger in the vehicle stopped by the Miami-Dade Special Response Team, and police shot and killed him when he reached for a "dark shiny object." Police found a cell phone in his hand. Records did not indicate whether he was armed, meaning that he wasn't. The same Miami-Dade robbery unit killed four men in another fake cocaine rip-off last year and two more in a similar set-up in 2007.

In Dallas, Kendrick McDaniel was shot and killed June 24 by an off-duty Dallas police officer during a confrontation at a local Taco Bell. Officer Courtney Howard entered the restaurant and saw McDaniel, 18, and two other teens sitting there. Howard noticed McDaniel had a marijuana cigarette behind one ear, and approached the teens. According to police, McDaniel got angry and starting cursing at Howard. Howard then pulled his weapon, and McDaniel started to run, fell, and then pulled a gun from his waistband. Howard then shot him. He died shortly thereafter at a local hospital. McDaniel's sister, Cedrickia, said she doubted the police version of events, adding that she didn't think her brother would pull a gun on an officer. The killing will go before a grand jury.

In Atlanta, Christopher Calhoun was shot and killed by Atlanta police last Wednesday as they attempted to arrest him on a fugitive warrant for drug and auto theft charges from Mississippi. Police got a tip Calhoun, 38, was in a vehicle at a local shopping mall, and shot and killed him when he didn't surrender peacefully. There was little detail beyond that, except one witness said police pulled up in several vehicles, jumped out of their cars, and yelled "Freeze!" before opening fire. The killing is being reviewed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

In North Fort Myers, Florida, Carlos Joseph Charles was shot and killed last Thursday by a Lee County sheriff's deputy after the vehicle he was driving was pulled over by the sheriff's Highway Interdiction Unit. Charles, 28, was driving with a woman and a four-year-old child when deputies stopped his vehicle. All three were ordered out of the vehicle when a drug dog alerted on it. When deputies found "a large amount" of cocaine, a "violent altercation" ensued and Charles was fatally wounded. The unnamed deputy was reportedly injured, but was quickly released from the hospital. Charles had been sentenced to two years in state prison on cocaine charges in 2008.

Puerto Rico Narcotics Officer Ambushed, Killed

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/officer-victor-soto-velez.jpg
Victor Soto-Velez
An off-duty Puerto Rican police officer was shot and killed last Tuesday night in what local news reports are calling an ambush related to his work as a drug agent. Officer Victor Soto-Velez, 37, becomes the 29th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the newspaper Primera Hora, Soto-Velez was driving his Ford Explorer on a highway in Camuy when he was ambushed. He was able to provide information about his assailants before he died.

As police investigated, they encountered a burning vehicle in the vicinity that matched the description of the attackers' vehicle provided by Soto-Velez.

Local police told Primera Hora that almost as soon as the shooting occurred, they received information that the attack had been directed specifically at Soto-Velez, who been an agent of Puerto Rican Police Division of Drugs in Arecibo.

Soto-Velez, a 13-year veteran of the force, left behind two daughters, aged 11 and 19.

No suspects have been arrested so far.

Camuy, PR
United States

NYPD Police Officer Indicted in Ramarley Graham Killing

Ramarley Graham
A New York City police officer has been indicted on manslaughter charges in the Bronx shooting death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham. Graham, a young black man, was shot and killed in the bathroom of his own home after a team of NYPD narcotics officers followed him home, broke in, and confronted him.

When he was killed in February, Graham was the eighth person to die in drug law enforcement activities so far this year. That number is now up to 28. The indictment of NYPD Officer Richard Haste is the first of any officer in any of those deaths.

Although the indictment has not been officially unsealed, the New York Times reported that a grand jury has indicted Haste, 30, on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter. More charges could be pending.

Graham was shot and killed after he and a pair of friends caught the attention of narcotics officers who had staked out a bodega on White Plains Road. They radioed their colleagues and said they believed he had a gun in his waistband as he walked toward his home. Officer Haste dashed to the scene, broke into Graham's apartment, and shot and killed him in his bathroom.

No weapon was found, but police did say they found marijuana in a plastic baggie in the toilet bowl, suggesting Graham may have been trying to get rid of the evidence to avoid becoming another New York City pot bust statistic.

The shooting has provoked anger in the community and led to numerous calls for justice for Graham and other victims of overzealous policing in the city. It has also focused attention on the aggressive tactics of the NYPD's Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit, teams of officers who surreptitiously surveil the streets looking for drug deals before bursting in to bust dealers and customers.

The Graham shooting has focused attention on the aggressive tactics of the Police Department’s Street Narcotics Enforcement Units -- teams of six or seven officers who hide on rooftops or in parked cars as they scan the streetscape for drug transactions before swooping in to arrest dealers and customers. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly ordered a review of the units' tactics, but the results of that review have not been released.

The last time NYPD officers were indicted for killing a resident was when three of them riddled Sean Bell's body with bullets as he attended his pre-wedding party in 2007. Those officers were eventually found not guilty.

New York, NY
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School