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Florida Cops Sell Man Drugs in Sting, Then Gun Him Down

Police conducting an undercover, street-level, reverse drug sting in Putnam County, Florida, shot and killed one of their targets Friday night as he attempted to drive away from the scene. Andrew Anthony Williams, a 48-year-old black man, becomes the 11th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to local press accounts, all relying on law enforcement sources, deputies and detectives from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office were conducting a "reverse sting" where they posed as drug dealers, sold unwary customers small amounts of drugs, and then arrested them.

Deputies had successfully sold drugs to and arrested 10 people, but when they identified themselves and tried to arrest Williams, who was number 11, he declined. "[H]e drove away quickly and hit a tree," the St. Augustine Record reported.  "The man next backed up toward the deputies, then put the vehicle into drive and turned toward some of them, the Sheriff’s Office said. Four deputies fired at the oncoming vehicle almost simultaneously, the Sheriff's Office said."

News 4 Jax had it this way: "…when they tried to arrest Williams, he took off in a blue SUV and, swerving to avoid deputies, ran into a tree. Williams then backed up and tried to take off again toward deputies causing four of them to open fire on Williams SUV, hitting him an unknown number of times."  

Williams was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. One deputy was wounded in the gunfire, but that bullet came from another deputy's gun, according to the Sheriff's Office. (In the headline for its story about the incident, News 4 Jax neglected to mention that anyone had been killed, going with "Putnam County deputy hit by bullet fired at suspect.")

The Sheriff's Office did not identify the four deputies involved in the shooting, but was quick to make available Williams' criminal history, which including charges for drugs, fleeing, eluding, resisting arrest, and battery on a law enforcement officer.

The four deputies are on paid administrative leave.

This killing should raise a few questions, both about the nature of the operation itself and about what actually occurred.

Reverse drug stings are a controversial tactic, sometimes arguably justifiable at the higher echelons of the drug trade, where selling sizeable quantities of drugs to a player to see where they go help crack a drug ring, but that logic isn’t at work here, where the only result is to round up some street drug buyers and drag them into the criminal justice system. Is having deputies pretend to be drug dealers to bust small-time users really the county's best use of its law enforcement resources?

And then there's the no-witness "he was going to run me over" defense used by the police to justify the killing. It happens not infrequently. Williams may have decided that getting busted on a minor dope charge was worth trying to murder a group of police officers with his vehicle. But could it have been that he was just trying to get away?

It'll be up to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which investigates officer-involved killings, to get to the bottom of it. 

Keystone Heights, FL
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Police Shootings in Drug bust s avoid the Media spotlight

Why some police shootings garner the media's attention is hard to fathom. However, there is one consistency in shootings related to drug busts. That's when the victim is also a drug suspect, the mainstream media has no interest in reporting on the story. I witnessed this trend locally in Upstate New York and nationwide. There appears to be a justification and judgment on the part of the media that drug suspects have it coming to them. I don't know what else explains their silence. In a few rare cases where the victim is a government official such as when the mayor of a Delaware town had his home raided or someone with the resources to have a lawyer on retainer, the media takes interest in the story. The deference shown to law enforcement by the media is troubling as it only emboldens them to continue to be aggressive and in some cases reckless in the prosecution of the drug war.

I never heard of this particular crap before, it's sickening

Incredible that thugs in uniform are allowed to get away with this garbage. Thugs who then go home and consume alcohol, which every sober person knows is far more dangerous than cannabis. Drug warrior cops should be aware that even if it's decades from now, they may have to answer to a citizenry who see things very differently from those today who would justify these Gestapo tactics.

Set Up and Murdered

This is scarcely believable to British ears.

It's like something out of Johan Hari's "Chasing the Scream".

LEAP_Speaker's picture

Shooting at Vehicles

I worked in law enforcement for many years. I think today officers shoot people in vehicles too often. If an officer has time to draw their weapon and shoot the driver before the vehicle hits them, then they also had time to step out of the way of the vehicle.

I can't imagine a situation where you would have time to shoot, and time for the vehicle to come to a stop without hitting the officer, that the officer couldn't get out of the way. Deadly force should only be used to protect the life of the officer, or someone else.

un called for

First of all I've witnessed at first hand some of the crooked things Putnam county cops have done I knew Andrew willams aka Andy for many years and he would have never intended to run over any police officers yes maybe he did have a drug problem but he didn't deserve to die first of all cops should know people on drugs do stuped things they should have never put thereselve in that situation why waste tax payers money like that busting addicts Instead of focusing on the real problem wich is the dealers it's common sence no dealers no drugs no addicts Putnam county's cops do not take there jobs seriouse at all they purposely do the bare minimum amount of work I myself have been arrested gasket because someone said I made a threat to them wich was a lie I hadn't even talked to the person who made the complaint on me and them I was taken to jail for misdemeanor battery with a bond of 7500$ how could they do that to a innocent person who never did anything wrong and in the end charges We're droped but the point is my freedom was takin from me for no reason and there is nothing I could do about it and my point is Putnam sheriff murdered Andy Williams for no reason so what they lied and said he was trying to run them over but the truth is he was under the influence of drugs and panicked and just wanted to get away but Putnam sheriff will never have to face the consequences for killing a man that didn't have to die they will get away with it and there is nothing anyone can do about it and it's gonna happen again what is wrong with the world today?? Rip Andy Williams you won't ever be forgotten

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