Latest Drug War Tragedy Reemphasizes Need For Marijuana Legalization

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 thoughts

  1. I’m so outraged by the violence used by law enforcement against peaceful cannabis users and dogs. The most frustrating thing about it all is the feeling of helplessness…
    There needs to be a movement.

  2. Drug War = Evil Religion of Hate

    Drug War = A means for Thug Addicts to try to satiate their blood lust.

    No doubt the High Priests of Assigning Permanent Shame and Holier-Than-Thou-Congregation will condescend with their tired utterances which show no mercy, but instead heap more insults on the deceased and those left behind; further showing how cold their hearts are.

  3. These are mindless thugs working for the state. They are no longer human beings but rather officers of the state. Unthinking, uncaring tools.

  4. Will SOMEONE please explain to these idiots (the police, of course) that even ‘tho they all laugh and joke around about their “day” over beers, the publicity they are getting is NOT good. Are they stuck on stupid? AND, at WHAT point doesn’t at least ONE of these cops (PRE-raid) speak up?!?!? And we let them carry GUNS?!?!? I don’t feel one bit sorry for them. They are making clear choices, that happen to be WRONG. I think each and every cop, everywhere, should be handed a LEAP brochure. They need to know that there are a LOT of other officers of the law who do NOT think they had good “day” and should get over the need to play cops and robbers, plant their feet solidly on the ground and realize there are other, better, more RIGHT options that “shootin’ at da potheads”.

  5. And still we close our doors and do nothing. Our only actions a few paragraphs on some ambiguous website. Stop blaming politician and look in the mirror America you are a mere shadow of the men and women who once ruled these land. Demand Reform !

    No shut your doors, get high, play your video games, write a rant on this web page and do what you have done for the last 20 years ….NOTHING !

    “OR”

    You can get off your asses, assemble, and get into the streets !!

  6. WHERE’S THE OUTCRY AMERICA YOU DEAD, LOST SOULS. These “police” AKA sociopathic power-tripping faggots need to serve a prison sentence for first-degree pre-meditated MURDER.

  7. cold blooded murder with no reason using the war on drugs as a reason to assinate americans for profit. this cop should get the electric chair or death by firing squad like they do in utah.

  8. Great.. The prisons are full, so now they are going to start killing pot smokers behind the blue shield. The New World Order is fast approaching.

  9. So, what punishments are these criminals (officers) receiving?

    [Russ responds: Well, so far, paid administrative leave. You know, days off from work without losing a paycheck.

    In the Missouri SWAT Dog Shooting case, the officers involved were found to have followed police procedure perfectly and were not punished in any way. This was the internal police investigation, of course, that found that the police had done nothing wrong in shooting seven times at both family pets, killing one, in the home with a seven-year-old child just yards away.

    In other news my own internal family investigation has found me completely innocent of eating the piece of pie my wife had been saving in the refrigerator. Nice how those internal investigations work out, huh?

    See, these acts of terrorism* are not punishable because the police are just performing their duties according to standard operating procedure. They are trained to eliminate the canines to secure the premises and control the suspects. Don’t get lulled into thinking these are rogue cops needing to be weeded out and punished. These can be any cop in any American city because we execute 100-150 violent SWAT raids against drug offenders every day in America.

    Also don’t fall for the “vicious pit bull” stereotyping; most families with pit bulls know them to be gentle, affectionate dogs. Yes, a few criminal degenerates will abuse them into viciousness and use them for protection. In those cases, police absolutely need to defend themselves. But it is the exception. Not only are the police executing caged and restrained pit bulls, they are shooting bulldogs (this story), black labs, corgis, even a freakin’ chihuahua-mix puppy!

    The killing of family pets in raids is just a symptom of a greater disease: the militarization of our police force and declaring war on American citizens over their private lives. It’s not that the cops kills the pet in the raid; it’s that we deem it acceptable to raid citizens’ homes in cases other than immediate danger to others. In America, it is perfectly acceptable to kick down your door and kill your dog to stop you from smoking a joint. That’s the problem.]

    *Yes, killing a man’s pet while he is helpless to stop it is terrorism by definition. It is an act designed to terrorize. It is a “shock and awe” tactic designed to psychologically overwhelm the victim, to evoke submission by literally wielding the power of death over a man’s family.

  10. once again, a bunch of rednecks and inbreds disguised as cops waive their lil’ dickies….

  11. H says: “There needs to be a movement.”

    Every year, this site list candiates for state and federal offices that could make a difference.
    HOW many of you actually vote for a NORML candidate?
    The 3rd parties controls just a few seats in state assemblies and only the Independants party has a few seats in congress. If 30,000,000 pot smokers united each November and voted as a group, we could elect a Libertarians to congress and maybe even a President. They can’t do worse then the Dems and Repubs. IF Prohibition was our #1 issue, we could have ended it years ago. (Am I crazy?)

  12. bb54, why is it NORMLS responsibility to legalize cannabis? Isn’t it you who needs to get out of your door and do some work for the cause? If legalization doesn’t happen, look in the mirror!

  13. I’m reading calls to assemble and march. Russ, can we get something up on the site to advertise a march on DC? It’s freakin’ summer. . .you know marching weather. We have to march, that is all there is to it. I’m tired of sitting on my ass up here in Michigan. Let’s go!

  14. A 10 MILLION MAN/WOMAN MARCH!!!
    CONVERGENCE ON washington, d.c.
    Notice how d.c. keeps getting smaller and smaller!
    We want ACTION!
    We want ACTION!
    We want ACTION!
    We want ACTION!
    We want ACTION!

    Legalize Marijuana now!
    Stop the scoundralous and corrupted murderous activity against marijuana users, being commited by scoundralous and corrupted government scumbag thugs. THE TABLES WILL TURN!!!
    End Marijuana Prohibition!
    All for 100% Marijuana Legalization, SAY “I”

  15. While I do not like violence, I am heartened to read the changing viewpoints on this column. Bullies like to beat up pacifists, and that is exactly how the war on us has been for the last 70 years; just a bunch of bullies (the state) against a peaceful groups of non-violent people (the people). I am glad to read that the obvious has finally become so in regards to this issue; that the state will never cease to bully us until we stand up to them in kind. I have been sowing seeds for a while, letting them spread as much as I can, and will continue to do so. Not like it’s a hard plant to grow. Grow your seeds, fight back, and take our liberties. Rights are never given, they are taken. If you don’t take them, you are a slave and don’t deserve them.

    [Editor’s note: “that the state will never cease to bully us until we stand up to them in kind.”
    This is entirely the wrong approach. If ‘standing up in kind’ means being as inhuman and violent-prone as the oppressors, this is a losing strategy in the long run. While no American should live in fear of law enforcement invading their property violently for growing or possessing cannabis, citizens looking to be violent towards police for being agents of the government’s failed policies are doing law reform no favors.]

  16. fuck the police fuck the police fuck um. dirty ass pigs shooting/puting happy stoners in jail for weed. Pussy’s should go bust a meth lab or something.

  17. sounds like Marijuana legalization movement is one of those things that need a revolution to make it happen.

    [Editor’s note: A revolution is hardly needed…when less than 1% of cannabis consumers are politically involved in their own liberation. Want a ‘reefer revolution’? How about registering to vote and participating in actually changing the laws. The last thing the otherwise chugging along cannabis law reform movement needs is to break into armed resistance and delusions of revolution.]

  18. Standing up to them in kind, means not going to our graves as victims, but to fight back. And as far as registering to vote; voting is a sham system. The system is completely broken.

    [Editor’s note: Self defense is not a crime…but why be so subservient to your employees (i.e., police) when the people are actually in control. Oh, that’s right. You don’t vote…meaning, you’ve effectively given up citizen control over cops. How smart is that?]

  19. It seems you believe in that sham of a system called voting. That system where people go into a box every couple of years, scribble a check down, and then forget about it after that. That is patetic. That is what I am being told is citizen participation in the system. That is exactly how we have been lied to for all of our lives. There are three places to vote intelligently. 1- Through the barrel of a gun. A way I would like to avoid, but will probably be here in this country fairly soon. 2- In the field. Whereby I grow weed and let it spread. Not that yuppie California greed based growing without seeds, but with seeds. This is the other more effectiv e way. 3- Intimidation of the bullies. That columbia, MO cop didn’t become reasonable until exposure and the death threats. Without the people standing up to them, telling them to go nd do their job or face those dire consequences, they will do as they always have done; which is to taze, beat, kill, and execute the people. I’ve seen this far too many times first hand to know better. If that happy Ghandi approach worked so well, if voting worked so well, weed would have never been made illegal. It was made illegal because the system has been broken for a long time. It was made illegal becaue the system works for the corporations, not us. Voting? That’s for patsies who DON’T want to get involved.

    [Editor’s note: Why don’t you just dig a hole and get in it since you’ve given up on being a citizen…and for no good reason as this is the MOST active time in cannabis law reform’s history. The Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King approach certainly does work, just ask the Romans, British Empire and southern racists like Sheriff Bull Connor! You want to be violent towards cops…when all you really have to do is vote for politicians that reel them in with cannabis prohibition’s demise, which is coming.]

  20. Let’s all vote for 100% Marijuana Legalization!
    Start talking to everyone and anyone about how corrupted the government system has become due to Marijuana Prohibition! People need to carefully draw up petitions for LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 100% AND OPENING UP NEW INDUSTRIES and get signatures of every concerned citizen whether they are marijuana consumers or not. We will then turn in our petitions in the proper manner and demand change expediantly. Demanding change expediantly means to change now, and not waste millions upon more millions of dollars of tax payers money while bickering and bickering over and over, while the current system of government is just bilching its citizens and taxpayers and the current situation isn’t changing because the government is in it for the easy money!
    Let’s make change happen! ASAP!!!
    VOTE TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA 100% AND REVIVE OUR ECONOMY NOW!
    END MARIJUANA PROHIBITION NOW!!!

  21. this is the very thing, the chain of events that lead out from irrational laws. draconian statues supported by the FASCIST CONDITIONED general public, do lead to very unfortunate situations. there are non so blind, as those who can not see.(quote from some unknown wise-guy)

  22. He made a “furtive movement” FURTIVE def. 1.steathy 2.exibiting guity or evasive secrecy. What exactly did this fella do? scratch his balls? Have an itch somewhere? trip on something? maybe he had a camo shirt on and the officer lost sight of him for a second? Furtive movement my ass! ITS JUST A PLANT!

  23. Answer the door when the cops have a warrant and lay on the ground when they tell you and you will be FINE ( like the girlfriend did)

    Try and flush your weed and not follow every warning exactly and you might just find yourself leading the officer (who is just doing his job) to think you are a threat and shoot you.

    Decriminalization is for simple possession, NOT cultivating, buying, selling or other other offenses. Use your heads people and you will be fine.

  24. To the editor note who thinks that voting works, no it doesn’t. Check out your YouTube to see how well they respond to our outcries. Cops still taze with impunity. How’s that Ghandi approach working there? Remember the BART shooting? No media coverage, so it must not have ever happened. Screw your version of being a citizen, I prefer to live as a free man, not a pawn. NORML is just as addicted to the drug war as the cops are. You call this effective? 1938 to today? Gee, wonder what you would call a failure?

    [Editor’s note: You must like self abuse if you don’t vote and then whine about public policies you don’t like. Pointing to individual instances of police abuse does not justify your withdrawal from being a participating citizen. When you don’t participate in voting and politics you basically give up you’re ability to criticize government since YOU are the problem. You may choose to take an Eeyore approach to being a citizen…but don’t poison NORML’s comment section with your misplaced negativity about voting and electing non-prohibitionists to amend and reform the current laws.]

  25. oh bafo has all of the answers here. did ya see that movie about the nazi fascists? where the nazi’s son ends up getting gassed cuz he snuck in to see his jewish friend?
    this guy’s speal sounds just like a programmed mannequin’s. quite like, mechanical in the way of a computer….garbage in, garbage out! lol!

  26. These police are guilty of murder. They should be sent to prison. Our government is corrupt. The laws need to be changed at the federal level. The current president let us down. We elected him once because we hoped for change. We don’t have to re-elect though.

  27. @130 Ah, the Nuremberg defense. Nice one.

    All travesty and mistakes are okay if they are “in the line of duty?”

    Love the idea of possession without any of the other things that make possession possible. Nice touch. It is the reason decriminalization means nothing to law enforcement. You are obviously not just in possession since that cannot exist without the others. Therefor you must be doing one of those other things to even have possession, yes?

    Just the act of complying with orders given can result in the same fate for many. Regardless of when, why, or where. Law enforcement could stop feeling threatened if they would simply reign this crap in and stopped defending it.

    I’m completely fearful of an underpaid, over-reactive, overworked, scared law enforcement office making a mistake because they know there is little chance of being penalized for their actions. Sad thing is I’m not one of the people breaking any laws. I just have an ever increasing outright disdain and fear of modern law enforcement because of posts like the one you made.

    I think the same concept of complying with authority should be universal. Cops committing murder is not a mistake, its just murder. The public trust is earned, not given.

  28. Seig heil you fucking nazi whore. I come here now only to remind you that you have obviously been bought and paid for. How does it feel to be a known traitor? Proud of selling out? Suck my big hairy cock you fucking stalinistic censor happy fucking douchebag. Keep your Ghandi ways out of my fucking state of Georgia. We have balls here. We don’t get run over in the South part because we stand up and fight back. So you just keep on advocating for everyone to suck off the man. Do it in your bankrupt state, not mine. Fucking douchebag editor nazi.

    [Editor’s note: Goodbye violent nutjob from Georgia…no more mindless and hate-filled rants from you any more @ NORML….with a citizen-advocate like you, no wonder GA is so ass backwards re cannabis law reform!

    You can keep stewing in your political ignorance and abstinence in GA while most of the rest of the country moves forward politically with cannabis law reforms, thank you kindly.]

  29. the drug war has turned people against people and it also has scaused citizens to fear and distrust the drug nazi cops. murder and mayhem is rampant and cops no longer serve and protect,they harass and intimidate. the war on drugs is a war on americans. nothing good has come out of the failed drug war. we need to fire the DEA and restore freedom and enable the constitution again. as long as we allow cops to murder and raid people homes,there is no freedom in the USA. get ready for november and fire incumbents who believe in the drug war. Alll of them!

  30. We’ve always been told that drugs will kill us. Nobody has died smoking pot, until the cops come to our door.

  31. Police are simply acting like any coward would when given a liscense to kill the helpless and innocent. My God, you would think we were all living in North Korea or something. Make no mistake, many police act the way they they do because like all other cowards, they are very, very afraid. And they should be. The day will come, sooner than they think, when they are arrested and put on trial for their war crimes in a war of choice they started and actively perpetuate, crimes against humanity violating God’s will for people to live in freedom with liberty as acknowledged and cited in the Constitution of the United States. But I don’t think we should pointlessly kill their household pets during the arrests.

  32. watch that muthafucka get a commendation for ridding the streets of such a horrible cancer in society
    and he probably got trashed that night of some alcohol
    which is perfectly safe and available to anyone that wants it

    NWA said it best FUCK THA POLICE

  33. also cops are just criminals with power
    they kill who they want and get little to no
    repercussions for their actions
    instead of a shot to the head
    they need to use their head and think
    “oh why am i killing a harmless cannabis consumer
    when i could be out taking rapists murders and such off the streets”
    but remember everyone
    most cops aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box

  34. All of you that advocate violence against the Govt or the Police are just asking for trouble! You are not doing anyone any favors by making your negative comments. When I read things by people like Jim Lunsford, I have to wonder what side of MJ prohibition he is really on. I don’t believe for one second that he represents the rest of the people in his community; much less the people of Georgia. He is either a born troublemaker or is actively working secretly for law enforcement to get others in trouble when they dare follow his violent rant…

    I think that the editor should delete all his posts and others like his since, in my humble opinion, do nothing to further our cause – which I understand to be legally doing everything possible to stop marijuana prohibition and update our archaic (criminally insane) laws. People like him should be ignored and censored.

  35. They don’t want the people to have guns “to protect the people” but they themselves are the most dangerous threats to the people.

    Interesting, as well as hypocritical.

    They say that they wanted to help people, and that’s why they became cops in the first place, yet they destroy people’s lives for non-violent posession of plant matter that is known to be safe, natural, non-toxic, medically beneficial, inexpensive and easy to grow at home? Hmmmmm…we should have strawberry police too! All those evil grandmothers making homemade strawberry jam should be executed IMMEDIATELY!!!

    And those Italian housewives who grow their own tomatoes and make their own sauces? Not only are they guilty of growing PLANTS, but they’re FOREIGNERS too! They’re probably terrorists as well, if they don’t speak tour language!!! GUANTANAMO, here we come!!!

    The sheer idiocy that our police and government operate under is staggering to anyone with more than three firable synapses…

  36. bet you this wont reach the news.
    bet you the cop wont face consequences.

    the problem is no force is greater then the police and no one can politically battle the government officials.

    maybe we SHOULD be buying brick weed from Mexico to support the cartels/non-leo groups to defend ourselves?

    the police should fight someone with the same force. instead of the cartels killing innocent people they should change course.

  37. when did freedom die like this man. that officer should be arrested and convicted for at least 2nd degree murder if not murder 1 why should he recieve any less than anyone else they’re worse the people they arrest my cousin was aressted for distrabution and she had 1.5lbs and 1200$ they reported that she had 1lbs and 600$ so they pocketed the difference how can they sleep at night? o i know on the piles of money they “conviscate” from people i hope his familly sues that police department untill its employees have to be sold into savery to pay of the money and that that murderer goes to jail

  38. Thank you editor for your calm head.

    The biggest problem with running to the streets every time there is a problem to shout about is unfortunately there are psychopathic opportunists who are just looking for any opportunity to throw rocks, smash things, and otherwise raise havoc.

    I am not against marches but if I ever was involved with one I would highly suggest doing what it seems our neighbors in the far east do, give everyone a specific t-shirt so it can easily be determined if Thug Addicts join the march in order to foment violence.

  39. … these tragic raids took place in regions of the country that have ‘decriminalized’ marijuana possession.

    Who be de criminal?

    De guy who shootz sumun dead or de guy holdin’ plant matter which God blessed us with?

  40. I can tell all of you for sure, I won’t be planning to take my next vacation in Vegas! Getting killed because of the mere suspicion that one might have a bit of marijuana is beyond crazy! And this, in the nations gambling capital – unbelievable!

  41. if weed was never illegal in the 1st place no legal system would ever try to outlaw it.i have been arrested many times for possesion of small amounts,lost 2 jobs,lost drivers liscense,and thousands of $$ in fines and legal costs.the three strikes your out law should not be applied to pot smokers.young folks are ok with the system because they think its just like a traffic ticket and as long as they have a ample supply the become passive

  42. do we have to start killing cops?

    [Editor’s note: The easy answer is ‘no’. Reformers lose the moral and ethical high ground when acting like the oppressors.]

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