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Drug Raids: Las Vegas Narc on Marijuana Hunt Kills Father-to-Be in Home

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #637)
Drug War Issues

A 21-year-old father-to-be was killed last Friday night by a Las Vegas Police Department narcotics officer serving a search warrant for marijuana. Trevon Cole was shot once in the bathroom of his apartment after he made what police described as "a furtive movement."

Trevon Cole with fiance Sequoia Pearce (photo from Sequoia Pearce via the Las Vegas Review-Journal
Police have said Cole was not armed. Police said Monday they recovered an unspecified amount of marijuana and a set of digital scales. A person identifying herself as Cole's fiance, Sequoia Pearce, in the comments section in the article linked to above said no drugs were found.

Pearce, who is nine months pregnant, shared the apartment with Cole and was present during the raid. "I was coming out, and they told me to get on the floor. I heard a gunshot and was trying to see what was happening and where they had shot him," Pearce told KTNV-TV.

According to police, they arrived at about 9:00pm Friday evening at the Mirabella Apartments on East Bonanza Road, and detectives knocked and announced their presence. Receiving no response, detectives knocked the door down and entered the apartment. They found Pearce hiding in a bedroom closet and took her into custody. They then tried to enter a bathroom where Cole was hiding. He made "a furtive movement" toward a detective, who fired a single shot, killing Cole.

"It was during the course of a warrant and as you all know, narcotics warrants are all high-risk warrants," Capt. Patrick Neville of Metro's Robbery-Homicide Bureau said Friday night.

Actually, narcotics warrants are fairly low-risk for police, if the numbers are a guide. With 1.5 million drug arrests per year, an average of just four police officers per year lost their lives conducting them during the past decade. Last year, no police officers were killed during drug raids.

A person identifying himself as Pearce's brother, who said he had spoken with his sister, had a different version of events from the police: "The police bust in the door, with guns drawn to my little sister and her now deceased boyfriend," he wrote. "My sister is 8 1/2 months pregnant, two weeks until the due date. But they bust in the door, irritated they didn't find any weapons or drugs, drag this young man into the restroom to interrogate him and two minutes later my sister hears a shot. They shot him with a shotgun, no weapon. For what? My sister is a baby, this young man is a baby, now my sister is at his house telling his mom her son is dead, and he is barely 21."

Pearce herself told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Monday that police forced her to kneel at gunpoint in the bedroom and that she could see Cole in the bathroom from the reflection of a mirror. According to Pearce, police ordered Cole to get on the ground, he raised his hands and said "Alright, alright," and a shot rang out.

According to Pearce and family members, Cole had no criminal record, had achieved an Associate of Arts degree, and was working as an insurance adjustor while working on a political science degree at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He was not a drug dealer, Pearce said.

"Trevon was a recreational smoker. He smoked weed, marijuana. That's what he did," she told KTNV-TV. "They didn't have to kill him. We were supposed to get married next year, plan a black and white affair," she said. "He was all I ever knew, we were gonna make it."

LVPD Monday identified the police shooter as narcotics detective Bryan Yant, a 10-year veteran of the force. This is the third time Yant has controversially used his police firearm. In 2002, he shot and killed a robbery suspect, claiming the suspect, who was on the ground, aimed a weapon at him. But although the suspect's gun was found 35 feet away, coroner's inquest took only half an hour to find the shooting justified.

The following year, he shot and wounded a man armed with a knife and a baseball ball who had been hired to kill a dog that had killed another neighborhood dog. Yants claimed the man attacked him and that he mistook the bat for a shotgun, but the man said he was running away from Yants when Yants fired repeatedly, striking him once in the hip. Because there was no death in that case, no inquest was held, but the department's use of force board exonerated Yants.

By Wednesday, anonymous law enforcement "sources" were feeding derogatory information about Cole to at least one local media outlet, KTVN-TV, which was happy to repeat it. "Sources" told the TV station Coles' "furtive movement" was "threatening enough detective Yant fired his AR-15 rifle once, hitting Cole, who had been flushing marijuana down the toilet." "Sources" added that the undercover officers had bought pot from Cole four times, although there was no name on the search warrant. (Coles and Pearce had only moved into the apartment a month earlier.) "Sources" also told the TV station police were extra cautious because undercover officers "were investigating another possible deal with Cole, involving cocaine and guns."

Time will tell if there is a scintilla of fact in anything these "sources" are selling. In the meanwhile, Yants is on paid administrative leave while the department investigates, and the family has hired an attorney to pursue a civil action. And another American has apparently been killed for no good reason in the name of the war on drugs.

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.


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Fri, 06/18/2010 - 12:40pm Permalink
mountain guy (not verified)

We need to visit the 25 square foot clause in the legal pot election in Nov. We could loose our personal use rights. 5 ft by 5 ft is not enough room for outdoor growing.

Fri, 06/18/2010 - 3:27pm Permalink
Carmen L. Brown (not verified)

This is so tragic. The poor woman and her baby. I hope that the real events of that night are discovered. I pray that the police refrain from dealing violently with people who use or deal drugs. People must love in the midst of these horrible events. I pray also for the police officer that he may see the human toll of his actions.

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 2:38am Permalink
Manuel Thompson (not verified)

So what was Hunter S. Thompson saying when he wrote, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"?

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 11:20am Permalink
Stephen Capizzi (not verified)

Another 'Swat Team 'style legal home invasion. Why do they bother to note that they 'knocked first', and upon receiving no reply they proceeded to break down the door. They never wait for a reply more than a split second before busting in in their black uniforms and AR-15s and bulletproof vests and shiny black helmets ,all pumped up on adrenaline and testosterone. When I see them pull one of these ' nickel bag ' raids on a $2.5 million dollar mansion then I'll give up smoking weed.

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 3:56pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

Look up Donald Scott, Malibu if I remember correctly. They wanted the property.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 5:54pm Permalink
Liz (not verified)

I have been a direct witness to law officers, from Brunswick, Maine, getting angry because they don't find what they want they want to find. It does happen. I was out on bail for a minor, non drug relted charge. I was the passenger in the car and the cop insisted that we both get out and be searched along with the car, when our reason for being pulled over was "mirroring", basically my boyfriend ended up really close to the car in front of us because the guy saw the cop up ahead and slammed on his breaks just as we were going buy. Doesn't sound like a reason to search to me. My car was a, embarrsingly enough, a mess, and he didn't find a thing after digging through all that crap. He got SO angry, he was yelling at us and saying we hid "the drugs" and yelled at us to get back in the car. He even, innapropriately, pulled my pants back up that were hanging loosely off my hips from losing weight when he was searching me. Some cops follow the rules, and some cops do get angry and retaliate. People don't want to admit it, and we need to do something about it. It's too often hidden and swept under the rug, and it's not right! So we lost another harmless pot smoker for what? I don't think anybody can justify what it has done to the families.

Sun, 06/20/2010 - 8:20pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

"According to Cole, police ordered Cole to get on the ground, he raised his hands and said 'Alright, alright,' and a shot rang out." -- has no one but me realized that nothing that happened to Cole could be related as "according to Cole"? So was it really according to Pearce? Or according to one of the cops?

Beyond that nitpick, these tales of death by cop in drug search raids really piss me off, whether they kill the dog(s) or people, it is just plain WRONG! And every cop who discharges his weapon in such a raid should be immediately fired and prosecuted under the same laws a non-cop would be prosecuted under for executing the same kind of action.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Mon, 06/21/2010 - 5:37am Permalink
Steven (not verified)

Police criminality occurs when unfair laws are attempted to be enforced by those of a different mindset than the victim. More innocent lives will be lost by similar fascist police actions before pot for home use is protected by the law. Everybody knows nothing will come of any police investigation into this death. The cop will be back on the job before his gun has cooled off. Meanwhile a young promising life is lost, a baby born into the world without a father, and the citizens of Las Vegas endangered by those who are supposed to protect them.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 6:36pm Permalink
Its a Damn Shame (not verified)

First off I would like to extend my condolences to Coles family. This is something that absolutely did not need to happen. What is going on with this cop? I mean why isn't he like over seas fighting in the war? The guy obviously likes pulling the trigger of his weapon and doesn't seem to have a problem shooting unarmed people. Probably because our military doesn't really allow that . The sad thing is that the LVMPD does. This guy or coward should I say has wounded 1 man Killed another and now ANOTHER!!! Warrant no drugs woman baby bullet in the face doesnt make sense.

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 9:34pm Permalink
expdnarc (not verified)

In reply to by Its a Damn Shame (not verified)

Unless you have ever been a narcotics officer or placed your life in danger for the betterment of others, you can not judge these officers. Your entitled to your opinion but that right is allotted to you by those who go into harms way. Bottom line He put himself in a position for this to happen to himself and also endangered the lives of his fiance and unborn child. If you sell illegal drugs bad things are eventually going to happen to you.

Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:51pm Permalink

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