Newsbrief: Memphis Taxpayers to Pay Big Time for Police Drug Raid Killing 2/11/05

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The good burghers of Memphis are about to make a big pay-out for the behavior of their police, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. In a 2002 drug raid gone bad, Memphis police fatally wounded gravedigger Jeffrey Robinson in his own bedroom, then planted evidence to suggest he was attacking them, a federal jury found in awarding $2.85 million in damages to Robinson's family. Robinson's son Jarvis was not part of that lawsuit, and he is now suing the city of Memphis for another $1 million.

According to testimony from the first lawsuit, which named three Memphis police officers, police received information from an informant that someone named "Carl" or "Snag" was selling either marijuana or cocaine out of Robinson's quarters at the cemetery where he worked. Within an hour, Memphis cops kicked down Robinson's door and shot him. Police testified that Robinson attacked Officer Mark Lucas with a box cutter and that Lucas fired in self-defense, but paramedics testified they saw no box cutter near the body. Police never fingerprinted the box cutter, and Robinson's family claimed police planted it after the fact, a claim accepted by the jury in the first case.

A trial in the second case was set for February 18th, but was postponed as the city and Jarvis Robinson negotiated a settlement figure. The city has an incentive to settle; a trial would have led to attacks on Memphis police training and procedures, the Commercial Appeal reported.

Officers Mark Lucas, Albert Bonner and Jeffrey Simcox were never disciplined in the killing, even though the federal civil jury found Lucas used excessive force and falsified evidence, that Simcox falsified evidence, and that Officer Albert Bonner falsified evidence and falsely arrested Robinson. The trigger-happy trio found a small amount of marijuana in Robinson's quarters after the raid and charged him with marijuana possession and aggravated assault. Robinson never went to trial on the charges; instead, he died a few weeks later after being paralyzed by Lucas' bullets.

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Issue #374 -- 2/11/05

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Editorial: A Cautious First Step | First North American Heroin Maintenance Study Now Underway in Vancouver | DRCNet Interview: Marijuana Policy Project Director Rob Kampia | DRCNet Book Review: "It's Just a Plant," by Ricardo Cortes (2005, Magic Propaganda Mill, $17.95 HB) | Drug War Chronicle's Phil Smith Featured in New Book -- "Under The Influence" Available as DRCNet Premium | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Newsbrief: Memphis Taxpayers to Pay Big Time for Police Drug Raid Killing | Newsbrief: Bush Budget Slashes Funds for Local Police, Increases DEA Funding | Newsbrief: What Meth Epidemic? National Survey Shows Amphetamine Use Unchanged from Year Earlier | Newsbrief: Death Squad Killings Spike Upward in Davao | Newsbrief: Indian Government Blinks in Face of Threatened Drug Shortage | Newsbrief: Marijuana Reform Under Attack in Western Australia | Newsbrief: Bob Marley Birthday Bash in Addis Ababa Comes Off Without a Hitch | Newsbrief: London Police Chief Ramps Up Rhetorical War on Middle-Class Cocaine Use | Web Scan: Debra Saunders, Drug War Carol, DPA Web Chat, Drug Truth Radio | This Week in History | Errata: Meth Bill Sponsor | The Reformer's Calendar

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