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Louisiana Man Swallows Drugs, Dies During Search

A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, man died last Thursday evening after apparently swallowing drugs as police executed a search warrant. Dontrunner Robinson, 32, becomes the 11th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to Baton Rouge's Fox 44 TV, citing Baton Rouge police, Baton Rouge narcotics detectives went to a Flag Street address to serve a search warrant. The police reported that "detectives noticed the subject was in distress and called for EMS."

Robinson was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police said they believed he had swallowed crack cocaine.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office was contacted, and detectives from that office will investigate the death. But police said no foul play is suspected and detectives are awaiting autopsy results.

Baton Rouge, LA
United States

Missouri Man Killed After Firing at Police in Drug Raid

A Warrensburg, Missouri, man was shot and killed by police executing a drug search warrant last Thursday night. Beau Appleton, 57,becomes the 10th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to local media reports, members of the Warrensburg Police Department's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) went to Appleton's home to serve a drug search warrant. He "apparently" fired a shotgun at the SERT team as its members entered the residence. Police then opened fire, killing Appleton.

No further details on the shooting were available. Police have not said whether any officers were injured in the incident.

Police said they seized drugs, drug paraphernalia, and firearms, but have not released more specific information.

While the extent of Appleton's criminal history isn't clear, records show he was arrested for drunk driving in Illinois in 2011 and again for driving without a drivers' license in Missouri in February.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating the shooting at the request of the Warrensburg Police.

Warrensburg , MO
United States

Police Kill Texas Woman Fleeing Drug Warrants

A police officer in the suburban Dallas community of Richardson, Texas, shot and killed a woman with outstanding drug arrest warrants as she fled from an attempted traffic stop Monday morning. Emily Krumrei, 32, becomes the 9th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Emily Josephine Krumrei (Smith County SO)
According to the Dallas Morning News, citing Richardson police spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Perlich, an officer "was attempting to get a violator to pull over in a parking lot" for reasons that are yet unclear, but Krumrei fled in her Lexus. Shortly thereafter, an officer in a squad car saw her and attempted to stop her, but she refused to pull over.

Krumrei turned onto the southbound frontage road to the North Central Expressway. There, Perlich said, "a third officer near the frontage road was working a traffic accident. He stepped out into the road and tried to get her to stop." But instead, Perlich said, Krumrei accelerated and clipped the officer. "The officer, in fear for his life, fired upon the vehicle," Perlich said.

The Dallas NBC affiliate had a slightly, but significantly, different chronology of the shooting. According to NBC, the officer "fired at least one shot at the woman before being struck by the car."

In either case, the officer was not seriously injured or hospitalized.

Krumrei was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Perlich said an investigation into her death was ongoing, but "it's possible she wasn't stopping because she had several outstanding warrants for her arrests."

The Morning News reported that records show Krumrei had been indicted in Dallas County in April for possessing between one and four grams of cocaine, and that she also had outstanding felony drug warrants from Smith County, a hundred miles to the east.

Richardson, TX
United States

New Mexico Drug Squad Kills Fugitive at Motel 6

Police in New Mexico shot and killed a man they were trying to arrest on drug charges Monday. Artesia resident Wesley Davis, 35, becomes the 8th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Wesley Davis (New Mexico DPS)
According to KRQE TV, citing police sources, agents with the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force went to arrest Davis on a felony drug warrant at the Motel 6 in Carlsbad. But "an altercation broke out when agents tried to arrest Davis, and he was shot twice."

He was transported to the Carlsbad hospital, where he died.

The initial reports made no mention of Davis being armed, nor did they provide any further information about the circumstances of his death.

The names of the police shooter or shooters have not been released. The killing is being investigated by the New Mexico State Police.

Carlsbad, NM
United States

Undercover Narc Kills Armed Michigan Teen

An undercover Michigan drug task force officer shot and killed a 17-year-old who pulled a weapon and tried to rob him Tuesday afternoon in Southfield, police said. Austin Ryan Thomas becomes the 7th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Detroit Free Press, citing police sources, an as yet unidentified Madison Heights police officer working with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) was working undercover during an investigation at an apartment complex in Southfield when the teenager pulled a weapon and tried to rob him.

"During the investigation a suspect pulled a weapon on one of the undercover NET officers and placed the weapon to the officer's head in an attempt to rob him," said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe late Tuesday in a prepared statement.  "The officer pulled his gun and was able to fire shots that struck the suspect."

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Wednesday that undercover agents had twice previously bought cocaine from Thomas. He added that Thomas had entered the undercover agent's unmarked vehicle and was seated in it when shot. The vehicle did not carry surveillance cameras because it was an unmarked vehicle, he said.

 Thomas was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead there. No officers or bystanders were hurt.

The NET task force is comprised of deputies and police officers from 13 Oakland County jurisdictions, along with DEA agents. The police shooter has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a review of the killing.

Southfield, MI
United States

Police Kill Oklahoma City Man in Convenience Store Drug Deal

An undercover police officer shot and killed an Oklahoma City man while attempting to arrest him after observing a suspected drug deal Friday. Marcus Dewayne Patterson, 35, becomes the sixth person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Oklahoman, relying on police accounts, Oklahoma City police were called to a convenience store about noon Friday because of reported "narcotics activity." Officers witnessed a drug deal, and three officers and a supervisor, all in plain clothes, drove unmarked police cars toward Patterson, who was in his car, according to Capt. Dexter Nelson.

Another plain clothes officer, Sgt. Charles Schamel, approached the vehicle on foot from the side and was struck by the car as Patterson attempted to flee the scene. As he rolled over the hood of the car, Schamel fired his weapon.

"That officer then fired on the man in the car, killing him," Nelson said. "A car can be used as a weapon anytime you are standing in front of a car and someone comes toward you."

Schamel was treated at the scene for bumps and bruises.

When investigators examined Patterson's body, they found a 9 mm hand gun tucked into his waistband, but police said he apparently never drew the weapon.

Two men in the car with Patterson were arrested at the scene and charged with felony murder. They got hit with that because police charged they were in the act of committing a felony when Patterson's killing took place.

Oklahoma City, OK
United States

Connecticut Towns Pay Out Big for Deadly SWAT Drug Raid

Five Connecticut towns whose SWAT team killed an unarmed man during a 2008 drug raid have agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the man's family. Another lawsuit, filed by the man who owned the home that was raided, is pending.

Gonzalo Guizan
In a joint statement, officials from Easton, Monroe, Trumbull, Wilton and Darien all maintained their police were not responsible for the death of Gonzalo Guizan that day. Eaton First Selectman Thomas Herrmann spoke for all five towns.

"While the defendants, police departments and officers from Darien, Easton, Trumbull, Monroe and Wilton maintain they were not responsible for the unfortunate death of Mr. Guizan, the insurers for the defendants, who will bear the full cost of the settlement, believed that it was best to resolve the matter rather than incur further attorneys' fees, which were anticipated to be significant," Hermann said. "The defendants concurred, further believing it was important to facilitate the Guizan family being relieved of the combined burden of litigation."

But the attorney representing the homeowner, Ronald Terebisi, told the Stamford Advocate the settlement was solid evidence the towns knew their SWAT team had gone overboard.

"This is a clear admission of misconduct on their part," said Gary Mastronardi. "There is undisputed evidence Guizan and Terebesi were huddled in a corner when police shot," he said. "This is just the first of two shoes that have dropped," Mastronardi added, referencing his pending lawsuit for Terebisi's emotional suffering and damage to his home.

A federal judge last summer had upheld the lawsuits, holding that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to decide if the SWAT team had used excessive and unreasonable force against the pair. That led to pressure on the towns to settle, even though they had filed an appeal.

The raid was organized by former Easton Police Chief John Solomon, who said in pretrial depositions that he had been under pressure to "do something" about Teresbisi, who was considered a blot on the neighborhood. Terebisi had entertained strippers at his home and was once found passed out in his home because of drug use. On one occasion, a boyfriend of one of the strippers shot up Terebisi's house, heightening neighborhood concerns.

On May 18, 2008, things came to a head. That morning, a stripper called Easton police and said she had seen a small amount of drugs in the house. (She later admitted that she had left the house after having a dispute with Terebisi.)

Early that afternoon, the Southwest Emergency Regional Response Team, dressed in full SWAT garb, took off for Terebisi's house after Solomon and others warned them that Terebisi was armed and would likely shoot at police. Police videos showed them throwing a flash-bang grenade through a window, smashing down the back door, and yelling out, "Police, warrant!"

One of the officers, Monroe police officer Michael Sweeney, yelled "I'm hit, I'm hit," and then there was the sound of repeated gunfire. When it was over, Guizan lay dead on the floor with six gunshot wounds and Terebisi, who had been pinned by one of the officers, was handcuffed and dragged out of the house.

SWAT members then searched the house, but found no guns. They did find two crack pipes and a small amount of cocaine. Sweeney, the officer who yelled "I'm hit," was the one who fired on Guizan and Terebisi. He turned out to have been hit by debris from a third flash-bang explosion. He claimed in testimony that he had struggled with the pair and shot because he felt his life was in danger, but other officers at the scene didn't back up that account. Guizan was found lifeless in a corner.

Sweeney received the Monroe Police Officer of the Year award for his part in the raid.

Easton, CT
United States

Two Dead in Police Grow House Shootout in Miami

Two people are dead and one man is under arrest after a Miami-Dade Police investigation into a possible marijuana grow house Tuesday evening turned into a sustained gun battle. Dell Peter DiGiovanni, 50, and (presumably -- see below) Michael DiGiovanni, 28, become the 4th and 5th persons to die in US domestic drug law operations so far this year.

According to CBS 4 News in Miami, Miami-Dade Police went to a home shared by the DiGiovannis and 29-year-old Brian Hall around 7:00pm Tuesday as part of "a narcotics investigation" and were met by gunfire.

"As they approached the door the subjects inside the house opened fire on the detectives," said Miami-Dade police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta." They immediately returned fire and three of the subjects were able to flee on foot."

While Zabaleta described the officers as detectives, it is not clear if they were in plain clothes.

A shootout estimated at 30 minutes long then took place, during which the residence shared by the three men caught fire. Police were able to arrest Hall Tuesday night, but were unable to search the house that night because of the fire. A body believed to be that of Michael DiGiovanni was found inside the house Wednesday.

Then, Wednesday afternoon, police reported that they had found the body of Dell Peter DiGiovanni hanging from a tree in front of home in the neighborhood. They said he had apparently committed suicide.

Miami, FL
United States

Orlando Man is Year's Second Drug War Death

One of two men shot by Orlando police inside a home during a drug investigation last Wednesday night died the following day. Karvis Jabbar Gamble, 19, becomes the second person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement activities so far this year.

Police told WKMG TV that five people were in the home when officers knocked on the door and that two of them resisted.

"A subject sitting inside the front room immediately reached for a handgun, pulled it up and started pointing at the officers," said Orlando police sergeant Jim Young. "A second subject inside the house comes running out of a back room. He ignored all officers' commands. He began to reach into his waistband."

Two different police officers opened fire, each striking one of the men. The other man shot by police, Cordaryl Leojermane Wilson, 25, has been charged with possession of MDMA/Ecstasy, possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest without violence.

Police said they recovered three guns, two of which were reported stolen, as well as drugs.

Neighbors told WKMG that they heard as many as five gunshots coming from the home. Relatives said it doubled as a studio for aspiring musicians.

Other witnesses told WKMG there were no guns or drugs at the house, and that police never identified themselves.

"All (the officer) did was open the door. They never said, 'OPD,' or nothing.  They just shot him," a man said.  "Who really would point a gun at the police? You know what's going to happen."

The two officers who shot their weapons will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a departmental investigation.

At this point, it is unclear whether police were uniformed or undercover and whether they were serving a search warrant or engaging in a "knock and talk" investigation.

Orlando, FL
United States

First Drug War Death of the Year

[Editor's Note: For the past two years, we have been tracking all reported deaths directly attributable to drug law enforcement activity in the US, including the border. We continue to do so this year. If you have information about a death we haven't included, please contact us. Remember, we are only tallying those deaths directly attributable to drug law enforcement -- for an example of a close call that didn't make the list, see the latter part of the article below.]

Well, that didn't take long. A Tampa, Florida, man was shot and killed by undercover police officers during a drug sting last Wednesday night. Robert Early Gary, Jr., 31, becomes the first person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement activities this year.

According to our tally, 55 people died in US domestic drug law enforcement operations in 2011 and 63 last year. Read our report on last year's toll here.

Police told the Tampa Bay Tribune Gary was shot and killed by an undercover deputy who was buying drugs when Gary tried to rob him of the money he was carrying. Sheriff's Colonel Donna Lusczynski said the two began fighting and fell down a stairwell. The deputy lost his handgun in the struggle, and as the men fought for the weapon, it discharged several times.

Two backup deputies were nearby. Lusczynski said the deputies told Gary to drop the gun, and when he failed to comply, they shot him.

"They saw the deputy in a fight for his life and they shot the suspect," she said.

The undercover deputy, who remains unnamed, was injured, but not shot. He was evaluated and released at a local hospital Wednesday night.

People at the scene and Gary's relatives took issue with the police account.

"There was no reason to shoot him down," said his stepfather, Dallas Gillyard, outside a nearby home where a crowd of people had gathered. "Was it because of his previous record or the color of his skin?" Gillyard asked.

Gillyard accused the police of lying about what happened. "He wasn't going to rob anybody," Gillyard said. "If he would do anything, he would give you something. If you're going to tell a lie, tell me elephants fly, too," Gillyard said. "Every time (police) kill somebody, it's justified."

In an earlier account, WTSP TV reported that residents of the area, a poor, mixed race neighborhood known colloquially as "Suitcase City," said the killing was just the latest incident of racial profiling in a neighborhood where police harass residents constantly.

"This is a deliberate act. You don't shoot someone six or seven times. It's just not right. It's uncalled for," said one witness.

The three deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated, which is standard practice when a deputy discharges a weapon.

Five days earlier, police in Philadelphia shot and killed a North Philly man in an incident with distinct drug prohibition overtones even though it doesn't qualify for our tally of killings directly related to drug law enforcement.

According to Philadelphia police, they were investigating an armed robbery when they encountered Darrell Banks, 47, who they said matched the description of the suspect. Banks allegedly took off running, and police claim he pointed at object at them when they tried to stop him. An officer shot him once; he died a short time later at Temple University hospital.

Police didn't find a weapon, but said they recovered "a small amount of drugs" at the scene, which could explain why Banks, who had a previous record that included drug charges, was trying to avoid them.

"He had no gun on him," said Terra Banks, his niece. "He had his cell phone!" She told NBC 10 News he left behind 10 children and six grandchildren. "We want justice," said Terra. "We want the cop who did this to be brought to justice!"

The Philadelphia police Internal Affairs unit is currently investigating the shooting.

In both Tampa and Philadelphia, the dead persons were black males. Black males were also disproportionately represented among the tally of drug war deaths in 2011 and 2012.

Tampa, FL
United States

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