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Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Five More Useless Drug War Deaths Last Month

drug war drug treatment centersBy Phillip Smith

At least five people died at the hands of law enforcement officers attempting to enforce the drug laws between October 30 and the end of November, bringing the Drug War Chronicle’s drug war death toll so far this year to 54. The tally includes only people who died as a result of drug law enforcement activities.

Two of the victims were white; three were black. Four of the dead had been armed and fired at police (according to police accounts); one was unarmed.

Here is this month’s toll:

  1. Floyd Ray Cook, 61, was shot and killed by two Kentucky state troopers and a US Marshal on the night of October 30, ending a seven-day manhunt that began when he shot a Tennessee police officer who had tried to pull him over. At the time, Cook was wanted on methamphetamine trafficking charges after failing to appear at an August hearing in his case. After shooting the Tennessee officer, Cook managed to elude authorities for a week before being cornered at the side of a highway and engaging in gunfire with police. His case made national headlines, with some media reports describing him as a “fugitive rapist,” even though his rape conviction had occurred in 1970.
  2. Timothy Gene Smith, 47, was shot and killed by San Diego police November 2 after he fled arresting officers who were looking for him and his wife, Janie Sanders, 32, on a Missouri drug possession warrant. Officers on patrol spotted Smith and gave chase, but lost sight of him until a police helicopter spotted him hiding in a shed between two apartment buildings. Smith then bolted and was bitten by a police dog before hopping a fence and climbing onto the ledge of an apartment building. Police said he turned toward Sgt. Scott Holslag while refusing to show his hands and Holslag, who “feared for his safety,” then shot and killed him. No weapons were recovered. Hours later,police arrested Sanders after she refused to leave a Pacific Heights apartment. “Officers killed my husband today, unarmed,” Sanders said as she was cuffed and placed in a squad car. While San Diego police said Smith was an armed and dangerous felon wanted on warrants, a Missouri bondsman said the only warrant was for Sanders.
  3. Randy Allen Smith, 34, was shot and killed by a Manatee County (Florida) sheriff’s deputy the night of November 17 after allegedly pulling a gun on deputies during a struggle in a Winn Dixie store parking lot. A deputy had spotted a “suspicious” vehicle parked in a side lot and called in back up, and two deputies then approached the vehicle. Smith was ordered out of the car, but refused to show his hands, police said, so they attempted to Taser him, but the Taser hit Smith’s dreadlocks and failed to incapacitate him. Police said Smith punched the second deputy in the face, causing him to fall and injure his head. “So he’s woozy, and he thinks he sees a gun. Then one of the deputies, we’re not sure which one at this point, started saying, ‘Gun, a gun, a gun,'” sheriff’s spokesman Dan Bristow said. “And that’s when our guy shot him (Smith).” A gun was recovered at the scene. Bristow said heroin and cocaine were found on Smith, and while he didn’t specify the quantity, he said they appeared packaged for sale. Smith was out on bond for possession of a controlled substance. He had also been previously convicted of cocaine possession, marijuana possession, possession of a firearm by a felon, and resisting an officer without violence.
  4. Demetrius Bryant, 21, was shot and killed by Cayce, South Carolina, police officers in what they called a “drug-related incident” the night of November 17. He died after allegedly exchanging gunfire with officers at an apartment complex in the town. Police said Bryant opened fire, wounding one officer before they returned fire, fatally wounding him. A later report said that police had been attempting to arrest Bryant on unspecified drug charges. “During that arrest procedure, the subject appears to have begun resisting, and a struggle ensued between himself and our two officers,” said Sgt.Evan Antley with the Cayce Department of Public Safety.
  5. Darius Smith, 18, was shot and killed by Atlanta police on the night of November 30 after police tried to pull over a drug-laden vehicle in which he was riding. As the car attempted to elude police, it was involved in an accident, and the two men inside jumped out and fled. The driver was arrested a block away, while Smith ran several blocks to the rear of a nearby hotel. “The fleeing male began shooting at officers, which caused officers on scene to return fire striking the suspect multiple times which resulted in his death,” Atlanta Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said in a statement. Smith’s body was found behind a trash bin. Police said they recovered about two pounds of marijuana, 60 grams of cocaine, Ecstasy tablets, six grams of powder Ecstasy, and $6,000 in cash in the car. The driver, 18-year-old Isiah Irby, is charged with possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and trafficking cocaine.

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  • Sean Joyce

    Police officers have the right to go home to their families too. Hard to defend the people firing at cops I would think.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      The point is that if the law wasn’t so bigoted in favor of alcohol, some or all of these people might have been able to stay on the right side of the law. They deserved, and we deserve, to find out who can stay on the right side of the law when mere possession of a substance isn’t a crime, and people are held accountable for violating the rights of others, not for their choice of intoxicant.
      And we need to stop tempting people with easy money when opportunities in the legal economy are so limited for so many people.

      • Sean Joyce

        Yeah I get it but you won’t hear me defending a scumbag meth pusher who shoots a cop when asked to show his hands.

        • These Hard Drug dealer’s poor life decisions and violent foolishness is no better than the police who foolishly go around enforcing prohibition in general since none of it works and its is all making things worse. It is merely a case of the evil of prohibition begetting more evil committed by both police and ‘criminals’.

          Portugal has 100% decriminalized ALL drugs since 2001 and their country is doing fine. In fact studies show that crime, disease, and addiction have significantly decreased and stayed lower than during prohibition of drugs ever since.

          Poverty, ignorance, and desperation all fuel the drug pushers motivations. Most people don’t sell crack or meth because they want to. Often their high profit illegal activities correlates to their poverty, lack of education, and lack of opportunities to sustain themselves and so they find a way to live which wouldn’t be available to them if it were not for the high black market prices on drugs created by prohibition of drugs.

          This article sucked because it should have discussed any of the MANY MANY other cases where the police clearly murder someone and/or steal their property without a criminal conviction or just cause. It should talk about all the stuff they never report like the frame ups with cops planting guns and drugs on people. or murdering them in a swat raid in the middle of the night breaking in like thieves increasing the risk of violence and planting a gun on them after they murder them. Police need not be doing such dishonorable things. All they need to do is execute such warrants in the light of day or through surveillance get the people when they leave the house and take the house when it is empty. but NOOO they CHOOSE to kick in doors at night with no accountability for their actions. That is jack boot thug trash like Hitler and is NOT liberty and is totally outside of our due process of law RIGHTS. Over the last decade in Ohio where I live the thieving police have illegally stolen via ‘asset forfeiture’ over 80 Million dollars worth of property without getting convictions because of the bogus ‘drug war’. They are corrupt and ‘police’ for profit via theft.

          Meanwhile our own American intelligence agencies are now and have been for many generations smuggling and selling drugs into America and all the world to fund their Black Operations outside of the scrutiny or approval of Congress or the American people.

          The real question is why are consensual crimes among adults existing in an allegedly free and open society at all especially in light of the fact that the drug war is a total utter failure hurting everyone including those enforcing against drugs?

          If all police did was enforce against violence, fraud, and protect property I would join them myself but they are not so righteous. I’ve never needed police in my whole life and never will. We The People ARE the police and may arrest for felony crimes. The ‘cops’ are just meter maids and an official ‘police’ force on call for emergencies. They should exist but their role and authority needs to be far more limited in a free society.

          Prohibition is the opposite of Liberty! So what does that make anyone who supports or enforces drug prohibition in a allegedly free society? Hypocrites and oppressors that’s what!

          Most police don’t give a damn about liberty or people and are just getting a check and live by the motto of “I’m jus doin’ ma job!” to rationalize their often totally unjustifiable and unnecessary behavior to cash in on oppressing their fellow man under the guise of protecting them. Police murder far more people every year in ameriKa than police who are killed on duty and that is not even counting all the police brutality, taser deaths, and prison deaths, and police conspiracy murders such as the wave of Black people being murdered in 2015 by police across the country.
          It is also the right of every human being to self defense and that includes against police who are breaking the law and should and must be resisted to preserve life and liberty.

          We must end the war on drugs and Marijuana especially to make our society more secure, healthy, prosperous, and at liberty for everyone including corporate city hired ‘police’ and the peaceful Marijuana users they should be protecting and not hurting.

          • deny

            Comparing a dirtbag criminal to a cop is offensive and mindless!

          • saynotohypocrisy

            Not always.

          • No, little one liners defending police out of context is what is mindless and offensive to reason.

            You clearly just don’t like admitting to the fact that not all police are good and that some are violent criminals abusing their authority everyday.

            We need police and cititzen gun Rights in a free society with a limited government. But you cannot deny that all the crime and violence surrounding drugs largely proceeds from prohibition itself.

            I noticed you’ve chosen to default on our conversation and have not answered to ANY of the things I’ve had to say about this. Instead you choose to just spout off a mindless defense of police when we are all equal under the law including police and it is not unlawful to defend oneself from police including up to using deadly force. Supreme court cases can document this.

            I never compared ‘dirt bag criminals’ to police in general. I stated that so called ‘criminals’ are often no better than police who choose to break the law by murdering, stealing, or reselling confiscated drugs and that Police are a part of our societies problem with drugs because prohibition doesn’t work. The police need to be reassigned to defending persons, legal truth, and property so they may actually serve society instead of hold it back and endanger themselves and everyone else in the process.

            The total prohibition of any drug has no place in a free society.

        • saynotohypocrisy

          I don’t want any dead cops either and I sure don’t defend pointing guns at cops
          .But police and users and the community would all be safer without laws that make mere possession of a substance a crime. Hold people accountable for their behavior that violates the rights of other, not for choosing to use a ‘wrong’ drug.

  • Robjohnson