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Law Enforcement: Ohio SWAT Officer Who Killed Young Mother in Drug Raid Gets Charged With Misdemeanors, Faces Eight Months at Most

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #528)

Back in January, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a member of the Lima, Ohio, SWAT team shot and killed Tarika Wilson, 26, and shot and maimed her infant son, Sincere Wilson, as she held him in her arms as he and other SWAT team members executed a drug search warrant at the home Wilson shared with her boyfriend. The boyfriend was the object of the raid.

graphic appearing on Lima SWAT team web site, removed after shooting
Police have presented no evidence that Wilson acted in a threatening manner as the SWAT team burst into her home.

On Monday, prosecutors charged Chavalia with two misdemeanors -- negligent homicide in the death of Wilson and negligent assault in the wounding of her child -- that could see him spend a maximum of eight months in prison if convicted on both counts. Wilson's relatives and activists, many of whom allege a pattern of discriminatory policing by the Lima police, were outraged.

The shooting itself touched off heated city council meetings and protest marches. Many citizens and civil rights leaders, including national figures like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had called for police and local elected officials to be held accountable. Those calls grew louder after Chavalia's charges were announced.

"Any time a man shoots through a baby and kills an unarmed woman, and is charged with two misdemeanors, I think it would be an understatement to say that that's unacceptable," said Jason Upthegrove, Lima NAACP president, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Upthegrove said the charges should have been more serious. He added that the Lima NAACP will ask the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate whether the case has been handled fairly.

"No one's above the law, even if he serves it," said Ivory Austin II, brother of Tarika Wilson. "Don't separate the police from the people. We are all equal in the society. Treat the police like you would treat the common man," he told the AP.

Lima Police Chief Greg Garlock said there was continued sadness over the shooting. "It's a sad day for us that one of our officers was indicted," Garlock said.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

So the cops are "sad" that one of theirs was indicted, but not a word about the victim! They aren't sad about this legalized murder and the Gestapo-like conduct of the police, but only about the repercussions. That's how far the police has sunk in this vicious war on drugs. Murder and mayhem are perfectly acceptable as long as it's committed by the police. A war on the innocent, and it's not enough to imprison masses of black people, but also to shoot women and children. Such nazi-like conduct in America, of all places. I am ashamed of my country and the vicious animals who run it.

Harry Fisher
Los Angeles

Fri, 03/21/2008 - 2:42pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In Albany, NY, an investigation was started that seems to be going nowhere (so what else is new) involving a bunch of cops and a local prosecutor who used a federal law that allowed them to purchase heavy-duty hardware to go after those oh-so-dangerous drug users and dealers. The cops and the prosecutor then bought said hardware with their own money, I guess to make the paperwork look right and then put the stuff on the market. Apparently an assault rifle was found in a gun dealer's shop in Virginia where we all know criminals go to buy their irons. Way to go Kojacks!!!!!!!

Sat, 03/22/2008 - 1:53am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Sounds like the war on drugs is really a war not just rhetoric. Directive 525-3 interpretation in Vietnam allow Tiger Force to "kill every thing that lived" in villages like My Lai nineteen times. General Westmoreland said that in "free fire zones" all inhabitants could be deemd as enemy combatants. The killings included old men, women and children.
It appears that in the USA (and this will filter into Australia) a SWAT team can consider any one, even a woman and a child as a hostile drug user, even after the warranted target has been arrested. Any black drug hostile and her child is now open game in any building that is inhabited by a drug offender, even when she is on a floor above.

Dieter Moeckel

Sat, 03/22/2008 - 4:03am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Is this the Dieter Moeckel who used to teach at Alice Springs High School?

Mon, 02/02/2009 - 2:53pm Permalink
Dieter Moeckel (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes I am the Dieter Moeckel who taught at Alice Springs High School in 1972 and 1973.

I hope I still have friends in the USA.



Fri, 04/29/2011 - 8:17pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The Lima, Ohio SWAT Team, is the perfect example of out of control law enforcement. I don't know what's wrong with the offical's in Ohio but this SWAT team should be disbanded. They are nothing more than new age NAZI's living in their own world. I hate to think what these guy's would have done at Kent State back in the day.

Sat, 03/22/2008 - 5:19am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The only way we will ever get rid of these nazi types is to serve on juries whenever possible. (Dress and act like a policeman) Use your connstitutional right as a juror to invalidate bad drug laws by jury nullification. As a side note, if you are unfortunate and are arrested for drugs, never waive your rights and demand a jury trial. If this happens enough it will clog the courts and more reasonable laws may prevail. At least, that is my hope. Watch the video, Busted. KNOW your rights!

Sat, 03/22/2008 - 7:36am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Since we hire police to be in a position of authority over the citizenry (and this goes for politicians, too) they should be held to a much higher standard than the average citizen. ANY infraction by a law enforcement agent (or politician), no matter how "trivial" should bring the hammer down HARD, meaning immediate suspension, without pay, until trial!

And punishment upon conviction for said infraction should be more severe than for the average citizen -- permanent loss of job, higher fines and longer jail terms than for average citizens who commit the same infraction.

As is the purpose with jury nullification in drug cases being to change the law, jurors should always find the defendents "guilty" when the defendents are cops who have killed a suspect or innocent bystander (unless it can be proven the suspect had a gun trained on the cop) and request the harshest penalties possible in sentencing. Cops getting off damn near scott free in cases like the above (and too many other similar incidents) has got to stop!

Sat, 03/22/2008 - 5:56pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm glad to see your are watching/reading the "Know your rights" video/book. Does the book have a chapter on Due process and the little statement of being innocent until proven guilty? I applaud you all for bypassing this little right of the people to further your agenda. Why should police have the same rights as you. You already know they are guilty without hearing their case so why bother with the courts, right? You all sound like the "Nazis" that you compare police officers to as you would just as soon take away their rights and execute without a "needless" trial. Good luck to you all with a consience.

Mon, 03/24/2008 - 7:13pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

the only enemy is the opinion of the very few from which this issue of race and the police has blown up from. The action of a small percentage of law enforcement officers and with the aid of the media turns these tragic and unforgivable acts to a global ideology encompassing all law enforcement, this is wrong and attacking the police will only incite more tragedy. to resolve these issues such as this one the fact that he is a police officer should not be relevant or should be a reason for a heavier punitive action against him, he was in control of his weapon and is trained on proper use of it and how to properly identify and engage threats as they appear not see movement and kill it. Its time for change and killing people is not the answer a civil organisation with no law enforcement ties should be formed to review, investigate and prosecute all levels of law enforcement no leniency shall be given only what the law requires per state criminal code.

Thu, 03/27/2008 - 7:54am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Dude honestly, its this stuff that makes me want to move out of this country. They can't show any proof that she was dangerous. She was holding a baby in her arms. She was shot by a police officer and DIED during a drug raid, and the officer that shot her is only getting 8 months in jail? If the police were chasing that drug user and he shot that woman, how much trouble would he be in? He'd probably be getting murder charges, drug charges, and probably either end up on death row or in jail for life. Since when are the police above the law?

Wed, 11/26/2008 - 11:10am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Jury nullification is an important strategy implemented by those who care about justice. It does NOT provide for finding someone 'guilty' against all the evidence, just the opposite.

It's also true that the 2nd Amendment is not a dead letter and people need to exercise it against ALL enemies, both foreign and domestic. But be prepared to pay a price, possible imprisonment, injury, or even death as in the case of this young mother and her child.

The 'rogue' officer argument has become tiresome. The truth is that cops who lie under oath and in their reports are NOT the exception, but the rule. They have qualified and virtual absolute immunity as we see in this case and the acquital in the Rodney King initial verdict as well as the upshot from Ruby Ridge when a similar killing of a young unarmed mother occured. The murderer was never held accountable. Neither was Janet Reno in the wake of Waco. Timothy McVey, though guilty as sin of mass murderer was correct in his motivating conclusion that the Amerikan government was waging war against marginalized sectors of its own population...women and children included.

Never contact a government agent/agency (especially in person) without a witness. Record all communications (including roadside stops) with law enforcement because you can just about count on them lying in the retelling.

The typical policeman is arrogant, attracted to the excitement of 'crime', and has a them vs. us mentality that sees YOU as the enemy. If they started with any smattering of boy scout idealism, it is quickly subsumed to the expediency of dealing with the 'hostiles' (us) in their daily routine. Police, judges, prosecutors, and your unenlightened 'hanging jury' neighbors can and will hurt you. Try to stay out of their way and exercise common sense, but in the end it's unlikely you will be given equal access to justice and you will have to decide whether to defend yourself. If you do, solidarity and cooperation with other defense minded neighbors with enough common sense to avoid jumping out of the kettle into the fire will help in arranging a common defense. Do NOT invite police into your home no matter how innocent you are, nor allow them to search any vehicle or your person with your permission. Do not speak to them except to provide your name as everything you say will be used against you and as an excuse to invent what you did NOT say!

The police are NOT your friends. They're simply an armed gang with different colors and their own code of conduct (protecting other gang members). As dangerous as they are, the more dangerous element in America is the ennui of most citizens toward the constant rain of outrages in the name of 'justice'/'law and order'. 1984 seems more like the good ol' days with each passing year.

Sun, 12/07/2008 - 6:24am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

This is truly a sad story, but I read something about the officers being attacked by pit bulls when they entered the door. I do feel sorry for the woman and especially the infant, but instead of playing monday morning quarterback, we should let the investigators do their job and decide whether the officer fired his weapon inappropriately. If he was being attacked by a pit bull and fired to defend himself, that changes the story completely. What if the woman was ordering the pit bull to attack, again that changes the scenario once again. I am saying this is what happened, but people should not jump to conclusions without knowing all of the facts involved. Leave that to those investigating and to a judge or jury that will make the ultimate decision regarding right and wrong.

Sun, 05/03/2009 - 2:35am Permalink

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