Latest Drug War Tragedy Reemphasizes Need For Marijuana Legalization

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 17, 2010

    On Friday the government’s war on marijuana consumers claimed yet another victim.

    In Las Vegas, Nevada, metro police shot and killed a 21-year-old father-to-be while serving a search warrant for marijuana.

    Phil Smith at StoptheDrugWar.org has detailed coverage here.

    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.”

    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 fiancée, 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 p.m. 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.

    … 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.”

    In May, NORML blogged about another sickening case — that one from Columbia, Missouri (you can watch the disturbing and graphic video here) — of ‘cops gone wild’ in the war on weed. But the similarities between the two cases go beyond narcotics officers breaking down the doors of private residences and discharging their weapons.

    In both instances, these tragic raids took place in regions of the country that have ‘decriminalized’ marijuana possession. That’s right. In Nevada, lawmakers in 2001 enacted statewide legislation defelonizing minor marijuana possession — making the offense a fine-only misdemeanor. (Separately, Nevada voters in 2000 decided to amend the state’s constitution to exempt medical users from arrest.) And in 2004, some 60 percent of Columbia, Missouri voters approved a local ordinance that sought to prohibit local cops from from arresting anyone for simple marijuana possession.

    Yet, as the above tragedies illustrate, neither of these ‘half-a-loaf’ changes in law (decriminalization and medicalization) ultimately corrects the core problem and that is this: Police and politicians still accept the premise that this level of deadly force is appropriate to keep people from using marijuana.

    That is why, while on the one hand NORML (obviously) supports cannabis medicalization and decriminalization efforts, we also recognize that these efforts fall woefully short for many Americans. After all, police in Las Vegas, Columbia, and elsewhere are not forcefully entering private homes and terrorizing families while executing search warrants for alcohol.  But they are engaging in such behavior in communities that have medicalized and/or decriminalized marijuana. And unfortunately, they will continue to do so.

    In short, the only way to fully protect all our citizens from these kinds of abhorrent events is through the legalization and regulation of marijuana for all adults.

    Decriminalization and medicalization are first steps — not the end game. Ultimately only legalization and regulation can bring a long overdue end to the brutal war on marijuana consumers.

    169 responses to “Latest Drug War Tragedy Reemphasizes Need For Marijuana Legalization”

    1. Ange says:

      THIS IS OUT OF CONTROL! These cops need to be stopped and regulated more than a recreational smoker!

    2. Georgian says:

      I totally agree with Legalization and regulation for adults. This is putting power in our so called “protectors” to invade ones house and cause bodily harm and/or death. Since when did the government decide who lived and died over a plant? Over a simple God created plant. Did God make a mistake by making the Marijuana plant? I pray that one day these people will wake-up.

    3. Justin says:

      This sure does make me sick. I hope everyone who reads this takes a minute to call these fascist pigs! here is some contact information
      office of public information: (702) 828-3394
      The sheriff/fascist organizer: (702) 828-3231

      please call them and ruin somebodies day up there.

    4. Dooby says:

      The state and federal governments are obviously not as intelligent as we all expect them to be. In all honesty, our gov’t would save incredible amounts of money by releasing prisoners with simple non-violent marijuana offenses as well as increase state and local tax revenue by selling marijuana in stores and charging tariffs on marijuana shipped over the border. The cannabis plant has more potential to bring us out of this economic recession than any other proposition made thus far.

    5. The Oracle says:

      This whole incident is so Buffalo Springfield. In a free country shit like this shouldn’t happen to an unarmed person. Apparantly, some pigs think even the flimsiest and transparent excuses are justification for murder in the name of the law, in the name of the war on marijuana. Sounds like the cops were trained in communist China, as China & Saudi Arabia and totalitarian (communist or religious or cult leader, whatever) countries like that execute people for drug infractions. Of course, they fill the whole courtroom with defendants to determine them guilty and sentence them to death all at the same time…saves time…let’s the government kill their way out of the problem…war on its own people, that sort of shit.

    6. All the cops need to step off, and back off their post 9/11 gestapo tactics, and let the stoners of America unite, to enjoy their inalienable constitutional freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My pursuit of happiness happens the be the pursuit and enjoyment of Marijuana. Its one of my greatest pleasures, and until Marijuana is free, We will never be free. To quote a famous civil rights leader- “I have a dream…”
      Well- I can dream, cant i?. but I have to pass a “P” test, so i have to abstain.. for now…
      BTW, fellon stoners, dopers, and Potheads( THEY have all kinds of epithets to call us, dont they ?)
      I AM the Allen County, Indiana Democrat Party Nominee
      for Allen COUNTY INDIANA SHERIFF. My campaign Motto is Sheriff Roach- Share the Roach. My main campaign platform is to legalize marijuana, and to advocate for law enforcement to leave all the harmless drunks, stoners, and screw-ups alone, and stop wasting taxpayers dollars on clogging the jails, courts, and prsions with mickey mouse misdemeanors, so we can use the re-allocate the scarce resources to pursue truly dangerous criminally insane felons, and violent predators.
      Home horticulture of Marijuna, and sale and distribution will be as legal as tomatos, peppers, or rosebuds.
      after all, a citizen can brew his own beer, ferment his own wine, and should be allowed to distill his own ethanol- for fuel, or drink. Marijuana is a much safer intoxicant. Keep all intoxicants and drugs away from minors, and children, of course.
      “Proud to be your BUD. and if you have a “BUD, by all means, share it with Sheriff Roach.And yes- thats really my last name.

    7. moldy says:

      Where do they come up with the money to go around busting into houses? They’re laying off teachers but somehow they can afford this kind of Nazi-izm.

      I thought tazers were issued for non lethal police assaults?

      Apparently us stoners aren’t compliant enough. JFC!

    8. Rock says:

      All i can say is , Once things start hitting home , Killing a young man over a small amount and scale and calling him a dealer. Thats when its time for something to change. Not only dealers own scales. Maybe it was to make sure he’s getting proper amounts ? Maybe he enjoys cooking and wants an accurate scale when baking ? The police left another child fatherless due to this silly war. Its failed , Games over guys , Just pack up your stuff and go home since its over. No more blood should be shed since we cant have freedom of choice , Its a herb , The religious cant argue since God gave us every green herb bearing seed for man to use. America , The home of the free and land of the brave. Thats not true since we have no real freedoms. Legalize the problem and solve it with a regulated solution.

    9. bhonze says:

      That’s BS; our military can’t treat terrorist this way but we allow this in our own country. our govt is F@*k!@ up!!! If we did this to terrorist these guys would be befor congress and serving time. I have no respect for this kind of action!!!!