War on drugs update
Things are getting worse for Prince George’s County, Md. police officials, after last week’s botched no-knock raid (previously chronicled on C@L here).
Not only did the police not have a warrant to conduct a no-knock raid, but it now appears they were well-aware that a drug ring was delivering large shipments of marijuana to innocent addressees’ homes in the D.C. suburbs. The packages would then be intercepted by other members of the ring, all without the addressees’ knowledge or involvement. Nonetheless, the cops executed their guns-ablazin’ raid on the home of Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife Trinity Tomsic, where the cops shot the couple’s black Labs and detained Calvo and his mother-in-law in handcuffs for hours.
Astoundingly, P.G. County police refuse to admit that they did anything wrong in the raid. As police chief Melvin C. High said in today’s Washington Post:
In some quarters, this has been viewed as a flawed police operation and an attack on the mayor, which it is not. This was about an address, this was about a name on a package . . . and, in fact, our people did not know that this was the home of the mayor and his family until after the fact.
I correct Chief High: When police officers execute a no-knock raid though they have no warrant or cause to do so, when they blast and shoot their way into a home without first learning who lives there, then they’ve carried out a flawed police operation. That’s the case regardless of whether Calvo and Tomsic are guilty of trafficking drugs.
A Lima, Ohio jury has acquitted police officer Joseph Chavalia of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson. Chavalia shot and killed Wilson and wounded her infant son during a drug raid last January. Wilson was unarmed.
During the raid, one of Chavalia’s fellow officers shot and killed the two dogs owned by Wilson’s boyfriend and the target of the raid, Anthony Terry. Chavalia testified that he mistook his fellow officer’s shots at the dogs for hostile gunfire coming from the bedroom where Wilson was standing with her child. Chavalia then fired blindly into the bedroom.
The jury concluded that Chavalia reasonably feared for his life when he heard the gunshots. I guess they were then willing to overlook Chavalia’s mistaking an unarmed woman holding a baby for an armed drug dealer, and the fact that he fired blindly into a room without first identifying what he was shooting at. It’s too bad that that same sort of deference isn’t given to the people on the receiving end of these raids when they too understandably confuse the police officers who wake them from sleep and invade their homes for criminal intruders.
Charles Lynch, the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay, California that was fully compliant with state laws, has been found guilty in federal court of pushing drugs. The grim details, courtesy of The Los Angeles Times:
The owner of a Morro Bay marijuana dispensary was found guilty today in federal court of five counts of distributing drugs.
Charles Lynch, the owner of the dispensary, faces a minimum of five years in prison.
His closely watched trial involved conflicting marijuana laws and went to a federal court jury Monday. Jurors were asked to determine if Lynch was guilty of violating federal drug laws.
During a week-and-a-half-long trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors sought to depict Lynch as a common drug dealer who sold pot to teenagers and carried a backpack stuffed with cash.
Lynch was charged with distributing marijuana, conspiring to distribute marijuana and providing marijuana to people under the age of 21.
Lynch is one of the countless casualties of an idiotic and tragically long-running war on drugs. His shop scrupulously followed Golden State laws and when he opened his shop in Morro Bay, local officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. And that kid he provided medical marijuana to? A high school athlete who had lost a leg to cancer and had a prescription from a Stanford-trained doctor (and in any case, Lynch only dealt with the boy’s parents). Yes, a common drug dealer.