Newsbrief: Austin, Texas, Cop Killed Enforcing Marijuana Possession Law 11/12/04

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Early this year, DRCNet reported on the toll of police officers who are killed each year enforcing the drug laws. Last year, we found, they were dying for the drug war at a rate of slightly more than one a month ( Now, another officer has died for prohibition, this time in Austin, Texas -- this time in an especially pointless incident -- a bust for simple marijuana possession.

As Austin-based crime and drug policy watcher Scott Henson noted in his blog, Grits for Breakfast (, Officer Amy Donovan died October 31 trying to chase down a pot-smoker in East Austin. The 37-year-old rookie cop was killed by her partner, fellow rookie Adrian Valdovino, who accidentally hit her with their patrol car, pinning her between the car and a light pole.

The predominantly black East Austin neighborhood where Donovan died is a favorite trolling ground for Austin police, and police initially told the Austin American-Statesman Donovan and Valdovino were on the lookout for "drug dealers and prostitutes" when they observed someone "acting suspiciously." It was later reported that the suspicious activity was people standing around a car smoking a joint. One of them took off on foot, Donovan followed, and now she's dead.

The crime Donovan died to prevent is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum 180 days in jail, but, as Henson noted, the Travis County Jail is so overcrowded it can't afford to keep low-level drug offenders locked up -- unless Austin taxpayers want to kick in about $100 million for a new jail.

Meanwhile, the guy who just wanted to share a peaceful toke with friends now stands to see his life ruined because a cop died trying to enforce the marijuana laws. Nicholas Jarmon is now charged with evading arrest, which in Texas becomes a second degree felony worth 2-to-20 years in prison. And because Officer Amy Donovan is dead, Jarmon will probably pay the price.

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Issue #362, 11/12/04 Editorial: The Spirit of Lawfulness | Ever Upward: At Nearly 1.5 Million, US Prison Population at New High | In an Hour of Conservative Ascendancy: Prospects for Drug Reform at the Federal Level During the Next Four Years | Syracuse Reconsiders Drug Policy | Newsbrief: Congressional Drug Warrior Threatens Canada Over Marijuana Legislation | Newsbrief: In New Twist in Thai Drug War, Police Detain and Drug Test Club Goers | Newsbrief: Ann Arbor Officials to Ignore Voters' Will on Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Says Wife Can't Consent to Search of Home Against Husband's Will | Newsbrief: Austin, Texas, Cop Killed Enforcing Marijuana Possession Law | Newsbrief: Supreme Court to Look at Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops | This Week in History | The DARE Generation Returns to DC: Students for Sensible Drug Policy 2004 National Conference Next Month | Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! | Seeking Information, Affiliations, Link Exchanges | The Reformer's Calendar

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