Autistic Teen Tricked into Buying Weed for Undercover Cop

[UPDATE: October 30, the family of the young man entrapped by police in this case have filed a lawsuit. Read more here.]

In late 2012, a Riverside County, California police officer infiltrated a local high school, befriended a vulnerable, special needs student and then proceeded to send more than 60 text messages begging the student to buy him weed.  The student, who had been diagnosed with autism as well as bipolar disorder, Tourettes, and several anxiety disorders (and noticeably handicapped) became overwhelmed by the pressure, and the desire to keep his only friend.  He finally agreed to buy pot for “Dan” (the undercover cop).  It took the teenager weeks to find anything, eventually buying half of a joint from from a homeless man downtown.

Then, as reported by Reason Magazine, “On December 11, 2012 armed police officers walked into [the student’s] classroom and arrested him in front of his peers. He was taken to the juvenile detention center, along with the 21 other arrestees, where he was kept for 48 hours. First hand reports claim that the juvenile center was caught off guard by the large number of arrests and that some youths had to sleep on the floor, using toilet paper as pillows.”  The child was also expelled from school.

This story is a grotesque example of how our nation’s marijuana policies continue to encourage the use of barbaric and predatory tactics by law enforcement officials.  They are financially incentivised to not only target otherwise law abiding citizens, but actively work to manipulate innocent children.  Aside from the gross misappropriation of limited police resources, this incident clearly highlights many of the tragic implications marijuana prohibition continues to have on our nation’s youth.  Further, zero tolerance policies in schools have proven to be ineffective in the very purpose for which they were originally designed. The practice of engaging in high school undercover drug stings has proven to do nothing to curb teen drug use.  It does however, leave the student body traumatized and resentful of law enforcement, making them less likely to report legitimate crimes in the future.  It is an egregiously unfair and punitive practice by educational institutions to expel students as punishment for any infraction of a rule, a significant portion of which are for non-violent low level drug violations.  How does removing a minor from what is intended to be a stable, nurturing environment do anything to help prepare these individuals to lead responsible productive lives?  They are now forced to sit at home with nothing to do but hang out with other expelled peers, or in a juvenile detention center.

One can argue that this all leads back to the financial incentives driving police officers to arrest as many individuals on drug charges as possible.  Every year, law enforcement jurisdictions are given federal grants, swat gear, overtime pay and assets based solely on their number of drug arrests.  Perhaps it is a result of former Governor Schwarzenegger’s passage of SB 1449 in 2010, which reduced the crime of possession of an ounce of pot from a misdemeanor to an infraction for adults 18 and over.  Now, the only way to keep up their arrest rates is by targeting minors – whose charges remain misdemeanors.  It is time to stop the madness and put an end to these insane zero-tolerance policies.  Our children’s future depends on it.

**The family of the student framed by an undercover officer have set up a fundraiser to support their lawsuit against the school district.  Click here for more information.

71 thoughts

  1. BTW, why hasn’t NORML covered the mayor of Denver trying to forcibly re-criminalize marijuana in direct defiance of the will of the people?

    [Paul Armentano responds: We have highlighted this issue, including the petition <> on our Facebook page.]

  2. Entrapment anyone? I’d say the parents should civilly sue the cop, laws aside. Regardless of what he was buying, this ‘cop’ took advantage, and from the sounds of it, harassed, a young, mentally-unstable CHILD into buying him weed. He asked the child to commit an illegal act on behalf of HIM. If i order a hit on someone, it’s me who gets in trouble. If the DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS opens a website where other people sell drugs, he gets fucked, so all I’m asking for is a bit of continuity. Hell, if i ask my friend to buy me weed, its ME that gets in trouble. I dont get how this cop gets immunity from his explicit conspiracy to buy a controlled substance violation. If they ask you to buy some, and you’re dumb enough to, that’s one thing; the weed was bought without knowing someone else would be buying some. However, in this case, the sole-purpose for the kid possessing it is the cop. It wouldn’t have been in his possession without the cop’s intervention, therefore, its a manipulated, false scenario. #Entrapment

  3. That’s absolutely disgusting. Harassing a poor kid to buy pot, only to then arrest him for buying pot? That’s nothing but a sadistic officer wasting tax dollars for some sort of sick game he deems entertaining, but in actuality is outright abusive and so morally wrong. My heart goes out to that poor, poor teenager. I hope the family sues the asshole for endangering their child.

  4. This is absolutely sickening. This is the babylon system at its finest. Make the youths sell pot and arrest them. Not only the only youth but mentally handicapped youth. Fuck the system!

  5. this is how law enforcement is protecting our children from a culture of ignorance. We are responsible for protecting ourselves from law enforcement.

  6. Hmmm. Aside from the moral quandary of this situation, how can this be justified in efficiency and financial terms? Something is being left out of this story because there is no funding for much more substantial operations let alone this piss ant entrapment BS!

  7. @Demon hype- I didn’t realize what the slime ball was pulling in Denver.. Here in Ohio we signed petitions for medical 2 turn around and have the District attorney or attorney general well regardless the asshole stopped us from going further and putting it on the ballot for voters to choose.. Nope the cocky pricks say that they are “elected officials and they’ll do what seems fit..” Tired of it!! Everyone is getting greased pockets and its screwing America..

  8. Is someone going to arrest that slimebag narco “police officer” (that is a joke) for the crime of “Contributing to the delinquency of a child”? This isn’t legal, and someone needs to be held accountable.

    I would have thought this might happen down south, not in Cali… But it also sounds like something is rotten in and around Riverside County. The fact this has been going on for years, well all of those cases need to be reviewed. Straight up abuse like this cannot be allowed. Targetting mentally handicapped and slow learning students in this way really is nothing more than the abuse of those students. They have no value other than be a target for hate; and this is officially sanctioned? Is this a fucking joke???

  9. How low is it that a defenseless, innocent kid had been tricked by, well, to put it bluntly in my own opinion, what a grotesque pig of a cop. How did he sleep at night knowing that could have been kid that was tricked. In all respects to the parents of this young kid being tricked and to his friends, we have to stand up and change this from happening again because we as true-blood Americans that were raised from the soil we walk across might not be so forgiving to Authority next time. What does that word mean to you all? To protect and serve huh….I pity the sad, sadistic cop and the station he works at, fakers.

  10. How sad is this? How about really protecting and serving by finding the real criminals and stop picking on the innocent children? He thinks he’s somebody, he’s just a bully with a badge.

  11. Yes, this is our tax dollars at its finest. teaching and encouraging kids to go out and buy drugs. Not only is this whole thing stupid, but that cop essentially put that kid in danger going out to buy the drugs. Just to make an unjustified arrest and make this kid expelled from school. Oh yeah and he was mentally challenged at that. This sickens me so much. I wish we would relieve prohibition and this war on drugs so we don’t have to resort down to something as low as this. That kid and his family must of been very embarrassed. My support goes out to them.

  12. Stuff like this makes regular people like me HATE THE POLICE. In fact since I’ve been a teenager, and for the 20yrs since, the prohibition powered war on drugs has positioned me as completely anti cop. I smoke pot. I don’t take drugs. The fact they would prey on a child who is troubled, makes me want to puke. In the cops face. then punch it. The officer, his superiors and anyone who allows this is a vile excuse for humans. I raise all three of my kids that police are the enemy and will only have contact with you to harm you. Never to speak to them, never go near them. Do not help them…. Again I have no criminal record what so ever. But I smoke pot. And own a business and pay taxes and I’m a dad. The war on drugs is a joke! Anyone who believes this bullshit about arresting people for weed is either profiting from its illegality, or old enough to still be controlled by religion and or govt. In the words of NWA, Fuck the police!

  13. This is completely unacceptable and cannot go unpunished. These thugs who prey on handicapped kids should be dealt with in the most severe way. It’s up to the people.

Leave a Reply