Police Raids

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Big Payout in Drug Raid Killing of Ex-Marine

An Arizona county and several towns will pay big-time for the killing of homeowner Jose Guerena in a 2011 SWAT drug raid. The jurisdictions will pay $3.4 million to his widow to settle a lawsuit she filed after his death, the Associated Press reported last Thursday.

Jose Guerena
Guerena was gunned down in the hallway of his home by invading SWAT officers as he crouched defensively with an AR-15 in his hands. Five SWAT officers fired 72 shots at him, hitting him 22 times and killing him on the spot.

He had returned early that morning from working an overnight shift at the ASARCO mine, and was asleep in bed when his wife warned him that armed assailants were surrounding the house. He instructed his wife and four-year-old son to hide in a closet while he grabbed his rifle and went to confront the intruders. Police initially claimed he fired first, but that turned out not to be the case.

The case became a cause célèbre for critics of aggressive police tactics, even roiling the waters of the local Republican Party. A Google search for "Jose Guerena" now returns more than 62,000 hits.

His widow filed a $20 million lawsuit against Pima County and the towns of Marana, Sahuarita, and Oro Valley, all of which had officers on the SWAT team. She alleged that the SWAT team acted negligently throughout, beginning with the signing of the search warrant and extending to the period after Guerena was shot, when police left him lying on the floor for more than an hour before allowing medical treatment to begin.

Pima County prosecutors could find no fault with the raid or the SWAT team.

"Under the circumstances, and based upon our review of all the available evidence, we have concluded that the use of deadly force by the SWAT Team members was reasonable and justified under the law," ruled Pima County District Attorney Barbara LaWall. "Accordingly, the Pima County Attorney's Office finds no basis to prosecute," she concluded in her report.

Tucson, AZ
United States

New Orleans Police Officer Jailed for 2012 Drug War Killing

A New Orleans police officer who gunned down an unarmed 20-year-old man during a 2012 drug raid pleaded guilty to manslaughter last Friday and was led off to begin serving a four-year prison sentence. Joshua Colclough, 29, who resigned from the force the previous day, apologized to the family of his victim, Wendell Allen, before he was led away.

Colclough was part of a police team that raided a Gentilly home in March 2012 as part of a marijuana investigation. A shirtless, unarmed Allen appeared at the top of the stairs as Colclough searched the house, and Colclough shot and killed him.

Defense attorney Claude Kelly said Colclough made a split-second decision.

"Josh will live with this as will the Allen family, until the day he dies," Kelly said in court.

Colclough's apology to the family was the second in as many days. The day before the hearing, he met with Allen family members and tearfully apologized. The meeting was taped by WVUE-TV.

"I wanted to tell you for a very long time how sorry I am. I am so very sorry," he said during that meeting.

"I prayed for you. I prayed God have mercy on your soul, but what took you so long?" the victim's mother, Natasha Allen said at one point, also crying.

"I am so sorry it took so long. I'm very sorry for what I've put your family through," Colclough said.

Drug War Chronicle tallied 63 drug war deaths in 2012. Eight of the dead were law enforcement officers. Of the 55 civilian deaths, only two resulted in an officer being charged.

The other case was that of Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old New York City resident who was gunned down in his own bathroom by an undercover officer who pursued him thinking he was armed. NYPD Officer Richard Haste was indicted in that case, but the indictment was dismissed because of prosecutorial error. The Justice Department is now investigating to determine if federal civil rights charges can be filed.

New Orleans, LA
United States

Chronicle Book Review: Rise of the Warrior Cop

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, by Radley Balko (2013, Public Affairs Press, 382 pp., $27.99 HB)

Whatever happened to Officer Friendly? You may recall that program, designed to improve police-community relations by acquainting children and young adults with law enforcement officers and explaining to them that police were their friends and were there to help. It was popular in the 1960s, but largely died out by the 1980s, although vestiges remain at a few police departments scattered around the country.

There may still be a smiling Officer Friendly on the force somewhere these days, but you wouldn't know it, because he's all dressed up in paramilitary gear, looking like an Imperial Storm Trooper, and that smiling face (if it exists at all) is hidden behind the darkened visor of his riot helmet.

To be sure, Officer Friendly was always a public relations effort. Even back in the halcyon 1960s, his friendliness toward you was largely determined by your net wealth, your neighborhood, and your race. But back then, we still had a working Fourth Amendment and we didn't have the war on drugs at least the drug war that we have today. We didn't have SWAT teams marauding across the landscape. And if not all police officers were really friendly, at least they looked like normal human beings, not winners of a Darth Vader look-alike contest. [Ed: Most police officers aren't on SWAT teams and don't dress like Darth Vader -- but you know what we're saying.]

Written by veteran investigative journalist Radley Balko, who's been covering the drug war, policing, and criminal justice beat for years at places like Reason magazine, the Cato Institute and Huffington Post, Rise of the Warrior Cop explains what happened. It's a long story whose origins go back to colonial days, but in Balko's hands, an entertaining and illuminating story -- as well as depressing and frightening -- told with verve and gusto, meticulously researched, and filled with telling historical detail.

Balko traces the origins of policing back to the colonies and exposes the tension between fears of a standing army and the need for an effective force to maintain public order. He shows how the values (and fears) of the Founding Fathers were expressed both in the Castle Doctrine ("a man's home is his castle") and the Bill of Rights, whose 3rd Amendment forbade the stationing of troops in private homes in peacetime and whose Fourth Amendment protected persons and their homes from government intrusion without a warrant.

Balko's telescoping work brings us rapidly to the dawn of the contemporary period a half-century ago, when rising crime rates and social disorder sparked heightened public concern and increased willingness by the public and the men in blue to resort to ever more repressive and aggressive policing measures to stem the tide of anarchy unleashed by pot-smoking hippies, anti-war activists, and uppity blacks.

And if you want to put a face on the militarization of American policing, Balko has just the man for you: former LAPD Chief Darryl Gates, advocate of professionalized law enforcement, creator of the first SWAT team and proponent of harsh measures against drug users -- he told Congress they should be executed. Gates was first out of the blocks with SWAT, but in the years since then, SWAT teams popped up first in other big cities, then in medium-sized cities, and then in smaller towns and cities across the country.

Originally designed to be used in rare situations involving the need for special weapons and tactics (Special Weapons And Tactics, SWAT), such as riots like the one that swept Los Angeles in 1965 and hostage situations, such as the shootout involving the Symbionese Liberation Army, the group who kidnapped Patty Hearst, in 1974, Balko details how SWAT has undergone "mission creep." From being used rarely and only in the most extreme circumstances in the beginning, SWAT teams now are deployed dozens of times a day, tens of thousands of times a year, and are routinely used against low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.

The application of such aggressive policing gets people killed, including both cops and innocent citizens, as well as criminals. As he guides the reader through recent history, we revisit ugly scenes that regular Chronicle readers may recall, and some that many have doubtless never heard of. The litany of needless deaths because of law enforcement overkill is infuriating -- and terrifying.

Of course, police alone did not militarize themselves. Politicians, especially those trying to win votes playing the "law and order" card, encouraged, enabled, and emboldened police. And, as Balko brilliantly shows, the imperatives of the drug war were a key motivator for political leaders like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush the Elder, all of whom expanded and deepened the war on drug users and sellers largely for political gain.

The flip-side of the undeniable militarization of American policing is the steady erosion of the Castle Doctrine and the Fourth Amendment. Balko does a real service by detailing a line of Supreme Court decisions dating back decades, but really beginning to bite in the past 30 years, that successively eroded Fourth Amendment protections. While aimed, of course, at only the worst criminals, the loss of those protections is suffered by all of us.

It really seems like America is degenerating into a variety of police state, with peaceful demonstrators confronted by police riot squads, "no-knock" raids that seem more in place in a war zone than in an American city, a cornucopia of federal dollars and surplus military equipment turning every Barney Fife into Robocop. In addition to the imperatives of the drug war, police militarization has only been heightened by our now more than decade-long War on Terror.

But Balko sees some hopeful signs. He credits the rise of social media for casting a glaring light on police abuses and ensuring that the evidence is widely circulated. He notes that enthusiasm for the drug war is lagging and skepticism about government is growing. And he charts the beginnings of a path back to an America where the police are peace officers.

"The best reform to scale back the overly militarized, dangerously civil-liberties averse style of policing that prevails in this country would be to end the drug war all together," he writes, while acknowledging that's not very likely. But barring the end of drug prohibition, the federal government could at least end the federal drug war and the federal incentives to militarized policing. No more federal taxpayer dollars for local police funding, no more Byrne Grants to fund those cowboy drug task forces, no more surplus military equipment to turn local police into occupying armies (at least in certain neighborhoods).

Beyond that, local officials can work to halt the "mission creep" that has seen SWAT go from riots and hostage situations to raiding poker games and bars serving underage drinkers, or doing "administrative searches" of unlicensed barbers, as happened in Miami. And does the Department of Education really need its own SWAT team? And, as Maryland did after the infamous SWAT raid on Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, states can start demanding transparency and accountability from police commanders in the way they deploy such specialized units.

Rise of the Warrior Cop is an important book and deserves to be read by small government conservatives, civil libertarian liberals, police commanders, and politicians alike.  Balko makes a very strong case that the status quo is a threat not only to our liberties and our way of life, but to the very values on which the country was founded.

After reading Rise of the Warrior Cop, I'm in a bad mood. Some of the people responsible for this militarization of our police, like Darryl Gates, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan are already burning in hell where they belong. Others, like Bush the Elder drug czar Bill Bennett, who also called for the death of drug users, civil liberties be damned, are not there yet, but deserve to be. Still others, like Joe Biden and a majority of the Supreme Court, are currently serving in some of the highest offices of the land. I guess I better not say what I think of them. I don't want to be visited by a SWAT team.

Massachusetts SWAT Team Kills Armed Man in Drug Raid

Members of a Massachusetts SWAT team serving a search warrant in a pre-dawn drug raid Wednesday in the town of Orange shot and killed the apartment resident after he allegedly confronted them with a weapon. Corey Navarette, 23, becomes the 20th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the fifth in the past two weeks.

According to the Boston Globe, relying on police sources, members of the State Police Special Tactical Operations Team (STOP), a paramilitarized SWAT-style unit, shot and killed Navarette around 5:00am as they tried to search his apartment. When troopers entered the apartment, He "pointed an assault rifle at them and refused commands to submit," said State Police spokesman David Procopio. "A trooper or troopers discharged service weapons in response and struck the suspect."

Navarette was given first aid at the scene, but was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. A 25-year-old woman who also lived in the apartment "suffered an eye injury" during the incident, the Globe noted without further elaboration.

Procopio did not reveal whether it was a "no-knock" search, where police make forcible entry with little or no notice, but he did say the STOP team was deployed because "detectives had direct and credible intelligence that the suspect had indicated that he had firearms and would use them," Procopio said.

The two-story Mechanic Street property where the apartment was located has been on the radar of police for some time. In November 2011, a resident shot another man with a handgun hidden in the apartment. In May, police raided the building, seizing heroin, a scale, packaging materials, and five shotguns, and arresting the building manager.

The use of deadly force by state troopers is under investigation by Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan.

Orange, MA
United States

Medical Marijuana Update

At least the DEA didn't raid anybody this week, but some Michigan cops did. That and more in this week's update. Let's get to it:

Arizona

On Wednesday, the first dispensary opened in Santa Cruz County. Greenmed Wellness Center opened in Rio Rico. A physician was on hand to review patient histories and issue recommendations so potential patients could apply for state-issued ID cards.

California

Last Tuesday, the Highland city council voted to ban medical marijuana delivery services. The San Bernardino County city already bans dispensaries.

Last Wednesday, the Bakersfield city council voted to ban dispensaries. The ordinance will take effect in 30 days. Actual enforcement of the ban will vary depending upon the situation, but investigations will be initiated by complaints, the city attorney said, and likely will involve both the city Code Enforcement Department, which investigates zoning violations; and the Police Department, which will determine whether a particular building actually houses a business where marijuana is being sold.

Last Friday, the Los Angeles City Attorney released a list of 134 dispensaries that will be allowed to operate in the city under Proposition D, the May initiative approved by voters. The dispensaries on the list are those that registered with the city prior to City Hall imposing a moratorium on new facilities in 2007. Opponents of the measure, who are seeking to allow more clinics to open in the city, have said they are reviewing possible legal challenges to the city's law.

On Monday, a medical marijuana summit in San Diego brought together medical marijuana-friendly Mayor Bob Filner, US Attorney Laura Duffy, and other representatives of of law enforcement, science, health care, education and community interest. The summit led to talk of hopes that local and federal officials can come to some sort of working arrangement in dealing with dispensaries.

Connecticut

Last Friday, a company filed an application with the city of West Haven to open a medical marijuana production facility. Advanced Grow Labs LLC will appear before the city Planning and Zoning Commission next Tuesday. But even if the city approves the proposal, the facility will still have to apply for a state license, and those aren't expected to be handed out for several months.

Michigan

Last Wednesday, police raided three dispensaries near Battle Creek, the Karmacy, Southwest Compassion Care Center, and Happy Daze. Police also served a search warrant on offices of the city of Springfield, seeking documents about licenses and financial records for the three businesses, which they claim were operating illegally. Police seized about six pounds of marijuana, 150 plants, seven handguns, ammunition, and "IEDs," which they described as "homemade fireworks." Michael Mcain, owner of Compassion Care Center wasn't happy. "Police said they had made a buy. But everyone who comes in has a card," Cain told the Battle Creek Enquirer. "They came in and robbed us and took all of our money and all of our stuff."

Washington

On Tuesday, the Marysville city council banned dispensaries and collective gardens. The Snohomish County community had had temporary moratoria on them since 2011. The Marysville ordinance does allow for individual gardens of up to 15 plants.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Thuggery in Philly, protecting drug shipments in Houston and Detroit, sticky fingers in Los Angeles, and that's not all. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, five undercover narcotics officers are the subject of a civil rights lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was wrongfully arrested during a drug raid at a friend's auto shop that included acts of police brutality directed at him and others present. Thomas Basara claims the narcs used a battering ram to break down an office door and conduct a search without a search warrant.  The lawsuit says the narcs never identified themselves as police, asked those present "where the money and drugs were hidden," then brutally assaulted them. Office Thomas Liciardello was named as an officer who struck one man with a steel pipe, knocking him unconscious, then kicked him in the mouth so hard his front upper row of teeth were separated from their roots.  He also broke the man's index finger and pointed his service revolver at the man's head, threatening to kill him. Basara claims that officers also beat him, knocking out two of his teeth and causing rib and back injuries, and that the narcs stole $41,000 in cash as drug profits, but only turned in $6,600, keeping $34,400 for themselves. The other officers named in the suit are Brian Reynolds, Brian Speiser, Michael Spicer and Lt. Robert Otto.

In Orange, Texas, a former Orange police officer was arrested last Tuesday after a citizen's complaint that he was stealing prescription pain pills. Taylor Scott Saleme resigned from his position as the complaint was investigated. He had worked as a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy for two years before joining the Orange Police Department last August. He is charged with possession of a controlled substance -- hydrocodone. He has bailed out of jail.

In Washington Park, Illinois, a Washington Park police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he smuggled drugs to a female jail inmate. Douglas Young, 61, is charged with official misconduct for bringing narcotics and prescription drugs to an inmate of the St. Clair County Jail, where he "used his position as a law enforcement officer" to arrange jail visits to a woman in custody on theft charges. He was being held on $25,000 bail.

In Los Angeles, a former LA County sheriff's narcotics sergeant was arrested Monday on charges he stole $4,000 in cash during a sting set up by his own department. Bonnie Bryant III, 57, took the money in a July 2012 sting set up by the department's criminal internal affairs division. That sting went down after Bryant was caught on a business surveillance camera stealing money during a May 2012 bust. He is charged with one felony count each of grand theft of personal property and embezzlement by a public official. He was a narcotics task force supervisor when arrested and resigned from the department in December. He's looking at up to four years and six months if convicted.

In Houston, two former Houston police officer were convicted last Friday of protecting what they thought were drug shipments in return for bribes. Emerson Canizales, 27, and Michael Miceli, 27, went down after investigators learned they were involved in illegal conduct involving drugs and bribes. Both men acknowledged taking money to protect the drug load. They were convicted of extortion under color of law and face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced in September.

In Detroit, a former Highland park police officer was sentenced last Thursday to a year and a day in prison for agreeing to take money in exchange for delivering a shipment of cocaine. Craig Clayton, 55, was one of four Highland Park officers charged with taking bribes and conspiring to distribute cocaine. Clayton was accused of bringing his badge and gun to protect a shipment, and accepting $1,500 in cash from an FBI informant. He copped to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. Two other officers in the case have pleaded guilty.

Los Angeles Deputies Kill Armed Man, 80, in Marijuana Raid

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed an armed 80-year-old man as they served a search warrant on a marijuana grow operation in a remote part of the county early Thursday morning. The as yet unnamed man [Update: He has been identified as Eugene Mallory] becomes the 19th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the fourth in the past week.

According to NBC Los Angeles, deputies were serving a "narcotics" search warrant at the multi-unit rural property in the desert community of Littlerock at 7:30am. Lt. Dave Dolson told the TV station deputies entered the home through an unlocked front door, and one deputy fired when they encountered a man armed with a handgun. The man, who may have been the property owner, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Later Thursday afternoon, the Sheriff's Department released a statement on the killing.

"When deputies approached a rear bedroom at the location, they encountered an 80-year-old male who was armed with a semi-automatic handgun. The suspect pointed the handgun at the deputies and a deputy-involved shooting occurred," the statement read.

Deputies recovered the gun, marijuana, and growing equipment at the home where the man was shot. Residents who lived in other units on the property were detained, but later released.

The shooting will be investigated separately by several agencies, including the offices of the Los Angeles County District Attorney and Coroner, and the Sheriff's Homicide and Internal Affairs bureaus.

Littlerock, CA
United States

SWAT Team Kills Armed Homeowner in Dawn Drug Raid

An armed West Virginia homeowner who confronted dawn police raiders with a rifle was shot and killed by State Police officers Wednesday. Richard Dale Kohler, 66, becomes the 18th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the third in less than a week.

According to the West Virginia Gazette, State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said officers from the State Police special response team and DEA agents knocked on the door of Kohler's home at 6:05am. to serve a federal warrant. The newspaper described the special response team as "akin to a SWAT team."

Officers knocked on the door, Baylous said, but no one answered, so police "had to break down the door or forcefully open it somehow." Baylous gave no indication of the amount of time that elapsed between the initial knock on the door and police breaking it open.

When police break down the door, they saw Kohler pointing a rifle at them, Baylous said. The troopers opened fire, shooting multiple rounds and killing Kohler. Baylous said he did not think Kohler had fired his weapon, but it was still unclear.

Baylous said the warrant police were executing was part of a larger, ongoing drug investigation with multiple suspects. He would not comment further on the nature of the investigation, except to say that the DEA division involved was one that focused primarily on prescription drugs.

A neighbor told WSAZ TV that she had seen unusual amounts of traffic going to and from Kohler's home, but that she was surprised to hear he even had a gun.

"I mean, I can't see him just open fire like that, but you know when all that comes after you, you never know what somebody's going to do," Christina Murdock said.

Clay , WV
United States

Medical Marijuana Update

The medical marijuana scene is hectic! Bill passing, raids happening, local officials pondering, and California dispensaries dwindling. Let's get to it:

California

On May 21, the Lakeport city council gave first approval to a cultivation ordinance that would require grows be conducted within detached structures on residential properties. The council will hold the second reading of the ordinance at its June 18 meeting. The document before the council on Tuesday night also prohibits outdoor cultivation and requires grows to be contained in accessory outdoor structures. However, it also puts the emphasis on complaint-driven enforcement.

On May 22, the Earth Choice Collective in Fresno closed its doors after a local TV station blew the whistle on the below-the-radar dispensary. Undercover narcotics officers served Earth Choice Collective with a notice to vacate several weeks ago, but it had remained open until the TV station aired its report.

On May 25, Anaheim authorities reported that 10 of 11 dispensaries had complied with orders to close their doors. Anaheim ordered all dispensaries to close in the wake of the California Supreme Court ruling upholding the ability of localities to ban them. One remained open and was facing fines of up to a $1,000 a day.

Last Wednesday, San Bernardino police shut down another dispensary. They, too, were acting in response to the California Supreme Court ruling. More than 100 mason jars filled with marijuana were seized at the SBPC dispensary, and several workers and customers were detained temporarily.

Last Thursday, DEA agents and San Bernardino County deputies raided two dispensaries and five homes associated with them. Targeted were the Green Oasis Collective dispensaries in Yucaipa and San Bernardino. Five people were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of pyrotechnic explosive devices, possession of meth, and various marijuana offenses.

Last Friday, police in Garden Grove began fining medical marijuana delivery services. The move came after the services sprang up in the wake of the city's ban on dispensaries last month. They are fining the delivery businesses $1,000 a day. One dispensary, OrganaCann Wellness Centers, switched to delivery mode after the ban and reported receiving $3,000 in fines, but is vowing to vigorously defend itself.

Also last Friday, Stockton dispensary operator Matthew Davies pleaded guilty to federal marijuana charges. He had argued that his store in Stockton operated in accordance with California laws, after working extensively with accountants and lawyers before opening the business. He faces a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence.

Also last Friday, a statewide dispensary regulation bill failed to advance, but its sponsor, Rep. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said the bill lives and he is talks with members of the Senate to advance it.

On Monday, the Healdsburg city council voted to form a task force to study cultivation issues. The task force will consider whether outdoor grows will be allowed, or whether they should be confined indoors. Police Chief Kevin Burke had proposed guidelines in response to neighborhood complaints about backyard grows, and the Planning Commission had recommended allowing patients to grow up to 12 mature plants and 24 immature ones, but limited grows to indoors and not within 300 feet of schools, churches, hospitals, child care and youth centers. But after the guidelines were publicized, they met harsh criticism, thus, the task force.

District of Columbia

As of Monday, DC medical marijuana patients were still waiting to get their medicine. Two dispensaries and three grow operations have been approved by District officials, but the District Department of Health has yet to give doctors the authority to recommend marijuana to their patients. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said marijuana dispensaries would likely open in the middle of June.

Michigan

Last Tuesday, medical marijuana supporters held a press conference in Detroit to publicize the imminent imprisonment of several Michigan patients and caregivers. One, Jerry Duval, a kidney-pancreas transplant patient with coronary artery disease, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and must report next week. Three other Michigan cultivators, Dennis Forsberg, 59, his son Lance Forsberg, 32, and Ryan Basore, 36, who were sentenced to 3-4 years in prison surrendered last Thursday. They were all convicted in federal court without being able to present evidence that they were complying with state law.

Montana

Last Wednesday, federal prosecutors appealed the sentence of a medical marijuana provider because they thought it was not stiff enough. They appealed the two-year prison sentence given to former University of Montana quarterback Jason Washington, who was convicted on federal charges for his role in a dispensary operation legal under state law. Prosecutors have also appealed the sentences of three other medical marijuana defendants out of 33 convicted in the wake of the 2011 federal crackdown in the state.

Nevada

On Monday, a medical marijuana dispensary bill passed the state legislature. The Assembly approved it the previous week, and the Senate approved it Monday. It now goes to the governor. If he signs it, up to 66 dispensaries will be allowed in the state, with up to 40 in Las Vegas and 10 in Reno.

New Hampshire

Last Thursday, the Senate approved a medical marijuana bill, but with amendments designed to placate Gov. Margaret Hassan (D) that advocates say will make the bill unworkable. The Assembly had already passed the bill; now a conference committee must try to reconcile the two versions.

New York

Last Thursday, more than 600 New York physicians came out for pending medical marijuana legislation. They signed a statement affirming that doctors should not be punished for recommending the use of marijuana for seriously ill people, and that seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if the patients' physicians have told them such use may be beneficial. The bill also has the support of the state’s leading medical organizations, including the New York State Nurses Association, The Hospice and Palliative Care Association, Pharmacist Society of the State of New York, among others.

Last Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg trashed medical marijuana, calling it "one of the greatest hoaxes of all time." The former pot-smoker's comments came as the legislature is considering the medical marijuana bill.

On Monday, the medical marijuana bill passed the Assembly. It now goes to the Senate, where three previous medical marijuana bills approved by the Assembly in recent years have died. But the pressure is on.

Ohio

Last Wednesday, the sponsor of a medical marijuana bill testified on its behalf, but acknowledged that it is going nowhere in the Republican-controlled legislature. Instead, Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) is urging support for a constitutional amendment on the issue.

Oregon

Last Thursday, DEA agents and local law enforcement raided four southern Oregon dispensaries. Raiders hit the Greener Side in Eugene and three Medford dispensaries. Several people were arrested.

Also last Thursday, the state legislature approved adding PTSD to the list of ailments for which medical marijuana can be used. The Oregon House passed Senate Bill 281 36-21, following a 19-11 vote in the Senate.  The bill awaits Gov. Kitzhaber's signature.

South Carolina

On May 23, an attempt to legalize medical marijuana in the state failed in the House. Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) tried to amend a bill dealing with controlled substances to add marijuana to the list of drugs that doctors could prescribe, but his amendment was ruled out of order.

Washington

On Monday, it was revealed that the DEA has sent threatening letters to 41 Seattle-area dispensaries that have effectively closed some of them. At least one Spokane dispensary has also received a threat letter, but from the US Attorney, not the DEA.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Ft. Worth Man Tasered to Death in Fruitless Drug Raid

A Forth Worth, Texas, man died after being subjected to electric shocks by police executing a drug search warrant earlier this month. Jarmaine Darden, 34, becomes the 14th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Jarmaine Darden (family photo)
According to Dallas-Fort Worth CBS 11 TV, Fort Worth police "zero tolerance officers" were searching for cocaine when the incident happened. They didn't find any, but they did find Darden asleep on his couch. The 350-pound Darden suffered from asthma and had to sleep sitting up, family members said.

A police report said Darden resisted arrest -- although it is unclear what he was being arrested for, given that no drugs were found on him -- and was shocked at least twice by a taser. He then stopped breathing and died. Two other people present in the home were arrested for drug offenses, but both just for possession -- one for marijuana, another for an unidentified "controlled dangerous substance."

Family members who were present disputed the police account.

"They physically pulled him off the couch because, like I said, he was asleep. They pulled him off the couch and they tried to put him on his stomach. He can't breathe on his stomach. He don't even lie on the bed on his stomach," said Donna Randle, the mother of the victim. "He had his hands behind his back the whole time. But me and about five other people were hollering the whole time, 'He cannot breathe like that. Please handcuff him on his side,'" said Randle.

According to Eric Darden, the victim's brother, a police officer warned Jarmaine that if he didn't get on his stomach, they would tase him, and they did.

"I'm not even accepting the fact that he's gone. I'm waiting for him to drive up any minute. It's just not believable," said Randle, adding that he left behind two teenage sons.

Fort Worth police have yet to publicly comment on the death, but community leaders said Police Chief Jeff Halstead has promised to keep them informed as the department investigates.

Some people aren't waiting for the police. A Justice for Jarmaine Darden online petition asks that Fort Worth police be better trained in the use of tasers "to prevent serious injury and death." As of this writing, there are only 22 signatures on that petition. [Update: As of Wednesday, June 5, there are now 12,993 signatures.]

Fort Worth, TX
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