Loading

Florida State University

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 10, 2008

    The Tallahassee Police Have Much To Answer For Regarding The Murder Of Rachael Hoffman

    For the last few days I’ve receive email from the Tallahassee area from NORML supporters claiming to either know or be friends with Rachael Hoffman, that she was busted a few weeks ago and accused by police for selling a small amount of cannabis and possessing MDMA was squeezed by local police to become a snitch, and that, disturbingly to them all, she had been missing for a few days. They were genuinely in fear of her life.

    In the last 48 hours, police arrested two suspects in Rachael’s disappearance, and early yesterday she was confirmed murdered.

    Today, as the general public around Tallahassee and Florida learn more about how the police used this young woman for controlled drug buys, the public comments found online and on local radio talk shows demonstrate terrific outrage directed towards the police.

    Thankfully.

    I spoke with Rachael’s mother Margie Weifs late yesterday afternoon. Talk about a difficult conversation. What do you say to a mother who has just found out that her only daughter is dead? A beautiful daughter dead not at the hands of cannabis, but the police agency that chose to bust her for pot (or, as Tallahassee law enforcement are calling pot in this case, narcotics), wire her and send her towards men who were reportedly buying and selling hard drugs, actual narcotics, to ensnare them for future arrest and prosecution?

    To say that Rachael’s mom is not confused, angry and wanting answers to this terrible tragedy in Tallahassee would be a woeful understatement. After the answers, she tells me she wants justice in this case.

    Watch the video of Tallahassee’s Chief of Police here trying to explain why getting murdered was Rachael’s fault, not the police’s. Further, watch here the Police Department’s Public Information Officer get grilled by Florida media about police procedures.

    Did the police follow proper procedure in using Rachael for controlled buys? See the Tallahassee Police’s ‘rules and procedures’ for using snitches here and here.

    There is an outpouring in Tallahassee from Rachael’s friends and family to try to heal, and then to organize against both the recruitment of young girls by police to be wired confidential informants and the general prohibition of cannabis.

    In Margie’s view, her daughter would be alive today, going into a Mother’s Day weekend, but for a country that does not tax and control cannabis.

    Ms. Hoffman is hardly the first young person induced by police to set up other possible illicit drug users who has been killed because they’d hoped their cooperation with police was going to lead to some modicum of deferential treatment from the prosecutor’s office.

    PBS’ Frontline examined the disturbing and increased use of confidential informants by federal and local law enforcement in the award-winning SNITCH. But, unfortunately from my biased viewpoint, few in the mainstream media have cast light on police tactics in their daily and futile efforts to enforce prohibition laws (an exception here is the reporting of Reason Foundation fellow and Cato Institute researcher Radley Balko).

    Health and Self-Preservation Tip: If law enforcement ever approach you (or a loved one) regarding a cannabis-related offense, and then seek to recruit you to became a confidential informant or a snitch, ‘just say no’ as your life (or that of a loved one) may be in danger.