Police/Suspect Altercations

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Alabama Narcs Kill One, Wound One

Undercover narcotics officers with the Hueytown Police shot and killed one man and wounded another in nearby Brighton last Wednesday afternoon. Calvin Robinson, 21, becomes the 44th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to a statement on the Hueytown Police Facebook page: "Hueytown Narcotics investigators were involved in an incident today in Brighton. Shots were fired. Thankfully, neither officer was injured. The incident is now being investigated by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. It would be improper for us to comment further until this investigation is complete. We appreciate the timely assistance of the JCSO, Birmingham PD, and Brighton PD. I ask that the public wait until the investigation is complete before drawing conclusions about this incident. Thank you. Chief Hagler."

At this point, there is no indication that Robinson or the as-yet unnamed wounded man were armed or had fired on police. Nor is there any word about whether any drugs were found.

Police have made no further statements since then except to describe the shooting victims as "suspected drug dealers," but a witness interviewed by CBS 42 News said he saw several police cars chasing Robinson's vehicle down the Bessemer Highway before it turned off the freeway and headed toward Robinson's home. 

"It was, you had about five of them that was coming behind that car. But by the time I turned around right here, all you could hear was gunshots," said Briscoe Fuller. "That didn't make no sense all that shooting they did."

Robinson's family told CBS 42 they were still coming to grips with his killing, but wanted justice.

"What's going through my mind right now is he was a 21-year-old young man who still had a whole life ahead of him to lead. And as an educator myself I see a senseless killing that took place today," said Angela Kornegay James, Robinson's cousin. "He was less than, as the young man said earlier, 20 feet away from his house. You can see his back yard from the place where he was killed so apparently he was trying to just make it home."

"I loved my brother," said Tyrus Robinson. "My brother don't bother nobody. My brother works. It was a senseless killing. We not going to stop until we find justice."

Brighton, AL
United States

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.org/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.

Vermont Farmer Crushes 7 Police Cars with Tractor over Pot Arrest

Location: 
Newport, VT
United States
A man rolled his 15 ton tractor over seven police vehicles -- five marked police cruisers, an unmarked car and a transport van -- in retaliation for a marijuana possession and resisting arrest bust.
Publication/Source: 
World News Daily
URL: 
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32075.htm

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

Lebanon Hashish Eradication Hits New Obstacle

Last week, we reported on armed resistance against Lebanese government marijuana plant eradication teams in the Bekaa Valley, one of the world's leading hashish-producing regions. The country's Internal Security Forces (ISF) aren't having much easier going this week, though at least no one is shooting at them.

A Lebanese marijuana plot before being burned by eradicators (wikimedia.org)
But if no one is shooting, no one is cooperating, either, according to the Daily Star. The Beirut newspaper reported that the ISF had to postpone operations to destroy marijuana fields in Hermel Tuesday after it was unable to hire enough bulldozers to plow the plants under.

The bulldozer owners in the area are refusing to rent out their machinery for eradication operations out of fear they will be targeted by the marijuana growers. They pointed to skirmishes on the outskirts of Baalbek last week that left one policeman wounded and two police vehicles damaged. Of more direct concern to the bulldozer owners, 15 tractors were attacked during that incident, and the drivers said they were warned against participating in the crackdown.

ISF units accompanied by the Central Office of Drug Control and the Lebanese Army headed to Hermel to begin eradication there Tuesday morning, but had to abort the operation when the bulldozers failed to arrive. The Daily Star also reported that the forces on the ground decided to delay the operation "to avoid confrontations between prominent families in the area."

Lebanon is one of the world's leading hash producers, and the Bekaa Valley has long been known as a site of cannabis production. During the Lebanese civil war, the trade blossomed into a multi-billion dollar business, but after the war, the government banned it in 1992, and has undertaken eradication operations with varying degrees of enthusiasm each year since.

Farmers in the Bekaa say their area has been poor and marginalized for decades and that attempts to come up with substitute crops have been ineffective. Efforts to get farmers to switch to crops like sunflowers, saffron, and tobacco have not gone well, with the crops proving unsuitable for the environment and not as profitable as marijuana, and support for crop substitution programs has been inconsistent.

The eradicators have about another month to get at the sticky cash crop before Lebanese harvest season begins in earnest.

Lebanon

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.

Mexico President-Elect Wants Drug Legalization Talks

Mexico's likely president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, said in a PBS Newsmaker interview that aired Tuesday evening that Mexico should discuss legalizing drugs and regulating their sale, and that the US and other countries should be part of the discussion as well. But he also said that he wasn't calling for legalization and that he would continue using the military in Mexico's battle against its powerful drug trafficking organizations, the so-called cartels.

Mexican president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto (cddiputados.gob.mx)
While Peña Nieto is virtually certain to be Mexico's next president, it's not quite official yet. Mexico election officials are recounting half the ballot boxes because of inconsistencies in the tallies and expect to release final results Sunday. But with Peña Nieto holding a five-point lead over second place finisher Andre Manuel Lopez Obrador, the recount is unlikely to change the outcome.

[Editor's Note: For our feature article on what Peña Nieto might mean for Mexico's future drug policy, published just as the PBS interview aired, go here.]

"I'm in favor of opening a new debate in the strategy in the way we fight drug trafficking. It is quite clear that after several years of this fight against drug trafficking, we have more drug consumption, drug use and drug trafficking. That means we are not moving in the right direction. Things are not working," he told PBS's Margaret Warner in Mexico City. "I'm not saying we should legalize," he repeated. "But we should debate in Congress, in the hemisphere and especially the US should participate in this broad debate."

"So let the debate begin, but you're not taking a position yet?" Warner asked.

"That's right," he said.

Peña Nieto joins an ever growing list of Latin American leaders calling for frank discussions on alternatives to US-style drug war policies. The incipient rebellion has been brewing for years, but broke into the open on the hemispheric diplomatic this spring at the Organization of American States' Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

Although US media coverage of the summit was devoted almost entirely to the bright shiny object that was the Secret Service prostitution scandal, the summit saw Latin American leaders, including Colombian President Santos and Guatemalan President Perez Molina urge that formal discussions take place. And just days ago, Uruguayan President Mujica joined the ranks of the drug war dissenters, as his government put forth plans to establish a state monopoly on marijuana sales.

While Peña Nieto's comments on debating legalization won't be welcomed with open arms in Washington, his affirmation that he will largely continue the policies of his predecessor, President Felipe Calderon, will reassure politicians and policymakers worried that he was going to go soft on the cartels. While he would shift the focus from going after gang capos to reducing the violence, the Mexican state would continue to battle organized crime, he said.

"I know there is a concern around this issue, in terms of assuming this adjustment means not going after drug cartels involved in drug trafficking. No, absolutely not," he insisted.

"I will maintain the presence of a Mexican Army, and the Navy and police in the states of the Mexican Republic, where the problem of crime has increased," the telegenic former governor of Mexico state emphasized. "We will adjust the strategy so that we can focus on certain type of crimes, like kidnapping, homicide, extortion, which today, unfortunately, have worsened or increased, because we have a lot of impunity in some areas. The state's task is to achieve more efficiency, and to go back to the rule of law and enforce laws strictly in our country."

And while he said he wanted to intensify cooperation with the US, he made clear that he felt the US had failed to do enough to stop gun-running into Mexico. That has been a complaint of Calderon's as well.

"We have been insisting on getting the US more involved in arms control," Peña Nieto said bluntly. "Unfortunately, it has had no impact."

The cracks in the wall of global drug prohibition keep getting bigger, and that bleeding fissure opened up by Mexico's wave of prohibition-related violence has created yet another stress point on the prohibitionist consensus. We may not be there quite yet, but the time when that wall finally collapses is coming.

Mexico City
Mexico

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