Skip to main content

Law Enforcement: At Least Four Killed by Police Doing Drug Enforcement Actions So Far This Month

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #594)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues

There is talk of marijuana legalization in the air, talk about sentencing reform, talk about second chances for drug offenders. But despite all the talk, the drug war rolls on, and the day-to-day grind of it can be a deadly business. So far this month, police officers enforcing the drug laws have killed at least four people.

None of the cases below is an obvious case of police misconduct, although the judgment of some of the officers involved can certainly be questioned. The departments to which the officers involved belong stand behind their men. But four people are dead after having encountered police officers doing drug war business, and at least one of them was not even the target of the cops.

In New York City, Shem Walker, 49, was shot and killed by an NYPD undercover officer Saturday night on his own stoop. The officer was part of a team of narcs, and was standing on Walkers' stoop to provide backup for a narc doing a buy-and-bust at a bodega a couple of doors down the street. Walker went outside to have a cigarette, encountered the undercover officer, told him to get off his porch, then got into a scuffle with him and a second narc standing on the stoop next door. Walker died lying in front of his house after taking a bullet to the chest.

"He said, 'Mommy, I'm going out for a smoke.' That was the last time," Walker's mother Lydia Walker said as she sat in her wheelchair Sunday morning before breaking down. "My son was the peacemaker," she said. "He wasn't involved in no violence. He always tried to make peace."

Walker's sister, Audrey Nurse said he was only trying to protect the family home. "Mind you, guys hang out on our front steps and my brother was always chasing them off. That's the only thing anyone can say about my brother. He comes and takes care of my mother. He is a peaceful guy. This is ridiculous."

In Gwinnett County, Georgia, an as yet unnamed man was shot and killed in a predawn drug raid on July 1. According to police, Gwinnett County police officers entered the home after knocking and announcing their presence, only to be met by a man pointing a gun at them. They shot him dead. Another man at the residence was arrested on a cocaine trafficking warrant, but it was not clear if any drugs were recovered at the scene.

Outside Holden, Louisiana, Donel Adam Stogner, 42, died after being choked by a deputy who was trying to force him to spit out a bag of suspected dope. The incident took place in the predawn hours on Sunday, July 5, when Livingston Parish Deputy Chris Sturdivant pulled Stogner over for weaving in traffic on I-12. The entire 8-minute encounter captured on the deputy's dash cam can be viewed here.

The encounter begins with the deputy asking Stogner for his driver's license, then asking Stogner what he has in his right hand. "I don't have nothing in my hand," says Stogner. "I swear to you."

But the tape appears to show Stogner placing something in his mouth. "Spit it out," the deputy yells, as he attempts to handcuff Stogner and he resists, if not exactly passively, also not aggressively. Stogner never strikes the deputy although the deputy strikes him repeatedly. Still, the deputy was unable to cuff Stogner until more deputies arrived on the scene. Shortly after their arrival, one deputy asks another, "Is he breathing?" He wasn't.

Stogner had been arrested for methamphetamine possession a week earlier. Preliminary coroner reports found meth in his system and concluded that he had died of severe coronary artery disease, an enlarged heart, and a fracture of the hyoid bone in his neck. The coroner ruled the death accidental, and Livingston Parish law enforcement said Deputy Sturdivant acted appropriately.

In Marrero, Louisiana, just six days later, Demarco Washington, 33, was shot and killed after a car chase following a drug investigation. Undercover deputies attempted to stop him, but he fled in his vehicle. Marrero was wanted on drug warrants, and collided with a police cruiser before driving away across lawns. According to deputies, Washington then exited his vehicle and pointed a gun at them. They shot him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Washington had previously been arrested for armed robbery, illegally carrying weapons, burglary, marijuana possession, distribution of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, and battery on a police officer.

One man protecting his front porch, one man in the all-too-familiar predawn drug raid scenario, one man possibly trying to avoid another meth arrest, one man desperate to avoid going back to jail -- all dead. And let us not forget the police officers. How does Deputy Sturdivant feel knowing he choked a man to death to try to make a nickel and dime drug bust? How does the NYPD narc feel knowing he shot a man to death who was only trying to shoo thugs off his porch?

The drug war grinds on, and the toll isn't always measured in arrests, seizures, or prison sentences.

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)

how long are we going to allow these animals to murder our citzens to protect big buisness profits

Fri, 07/17/2009 - 1:17pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

When you wage a war based on insanity, then you deserve whatever you get. A cop getting shot is what a cop deserves.

Sat, 07/18/2009 - 5:30am Permalink
TrebleBass (not verified)

The Demarco Washington one might not have been preventable through legalization, but the rest definitely would never have happened if drugs had been legal.

Fri, 07/17/2009 - 2:49pm Permalink
rita (not verified)

In reply to by TrebleBass (not verified)

Demarco Washington following a "drug investigation," a direct result of prohibition. No drug laws, no drug investigation, no chase, no shooting.

Sun, 07/19/2009 - 1:01pm Permalink
Steve Swimmer (not verified)

Today, without compunction, not even a knock on your door, the police can grab
you by your hair, shoot you until dead; and, the Supreme Court will say: that's

Justice Antonin Scalia declared that unreasonable searches are less of a
problem today because of "the increasing professionalism of police forces." To
me, and perhaps you in the future, this means the police have become
professional killers.

Here are the facts: My Son, Michael, is among the all to numerous extra
judicial homicide deaths in our country. He was gunned down by, quite
literally now, hooded jack booted thugs with police badges. While Michael stood
naked by his own bed, SWAT police burst through his front door and riddled his
bedroom with machine gun fire. Michael was shot 10 times and died a few hours
later. The Authorities all agreed killing my Son, who had no police record, was
just. Why? Because, an unidentified informant said Michael had 368 tablets of
ecstasy and, of course, the "professional" SWAT police claimed there was the
always just too convenient gun which was never fired nor ever produced.

Oh yes, the "professional police" know how to kill within the bounds of the
law; and, do so with gusto and glee. And now, with "no knock," my fellow
Americans, if you dare open your eyes, you will see "professionally" executed
deaths way more regularly.

Margaret Chase Smith once said "America is going to get just what it
deserves." Looks like Justice Scalia is proving her point.

Fri, 07/17/2009 - 3:34pm Permalink
WTF (not verified)

The police officers that choked the man to death should be tried, convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck alongside any legislator that voted for these laws that allow police officers to act like this over drugs. They should be beaten, dragged out to the front of the capitol building and hung by a rope on national TV so that the next sick SOB wearing a badge thinks twice before murdering an innocent human being over a bag of dope.

Fri, 07/17/2009 - 7:38pm Permalink
rita (not verified)

how the murderers feel? Do you think, David, that they give a damn about the feelings of their victims? If these "law enforcement" officers were human beings deserving of the name, they'd be apologizing. But they aren't, and they won't, not ever. And every cop who, either in words or by his or her silence, supports these murderers is also guilty of being an accessory to the crime, before or after the fact.

I support LEAP, but this would be a REALLY good time for them to condemn, out loud, in public, these outrageous abuses of power.

Fri, 07/17/2009 - 10:47pm Permalink
joebanana (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Who do you ask, if it's okay to murder someone? What that cop did rates right up there with child molestation. Of course he didn't have a right to stand on someone's property, let alone kill the occupant. There's absolutely no excuse for that kind of incompetence, and the entire city should be sued for endangering the public like that.

Sat, 07/18/2009 - 8:48am Permalink
rita (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The US Constitution (with a capital"C") guarantees everyone within its jurisdiction the right to privacy in home, persons and papers. The so-called "war on drugs" has taken those rights away from all of us. Not just drug users or suspected drug users. And not just convicted or suspected criminals. ALL of us. People keep saying "If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Shem Walker's case is just one more obvious proof of that.

Sun, 07/19/2009 - 12:46pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The man on his stoop had every right to to ask the narcs to leave, then a scuffel breaks out and what do two cops do? They pull out their guns and shoot the man to death. Does this sound like the way the police are supposed to act?

These cops sound more like a couple of gangsters who rather than get beat up just shoot and kill. No worry's though they are cops and they can kill people with impunity. What a sick world the drug war has made.

Sat, 07/18/2009 - 9:23pm Permalink
rita (not verified)

Did I miss something? The Huffington Post quoted Chief Deputy Ard saying that the coroner is EXPECTED to say that his heart condition with the meth in his system killed him. I didn't read anywhere that the coroner actually SAID that.

Funny thing -- In 27 years of being around meth and meth users, the ONLY people I've ever heard of dying from meth use have been in police custody, being beaten, Taser'd and/or choked at the time.

Lucky for Stogner that the cops were there to keep him from killing himself.

Sun, 07/19/2009 - 12:58pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

What kind of humanity can ANY sensible person expect from a psychopath....?

Mon, 07/20/2009 - 4:02pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It took 4 cops eight minutes to kill a man; that's real efficiency. It's your tax dollars at work, folks; thank God for the Federal stimulus program...

Mon, 07/20/2009 - 4:17pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

as long as the cops have the guns, they are always going to be right. RIGHT??? if we shoot a cop who breaks in our home, all they have to say is they had a warrant even if its the wrong house. we have no rights.

Wed, 07/22/2009 - 1:44pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.