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Civilian Casualities of the Drug War - A Memorial

A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
www.tgorski.com
Published On: July 23, 2001          Updated On: April 13, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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The War on Drugs is no longer about helping people to avoid the harm of addiction.  The War on Drugs is stripping people of their constitutional rights and killing them in their own homes.  The drug warriors, including high ranking officials in the White House, Attorney General's Office, and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) view the individuals who are murdered in no knock drug raids gone bad as collateral damage in a necessary war against drugs.  

I discovered the following memorial on the internet.  It clearly depicts one aspect of the human price we are all paying for continuing to support the war on drugs.  I was moved by reading these accounts.  I had to ask myself four vital questions:  

·    How can this be happening in the United States.  

·    How can it be allowed to continue?  

·    If not me who?  

·    If not now, when?"

In answer to these questions I took small step.  I decided to put this information on my web site so people of good will can see what is going on, ask themselves these questions, and decide what if anything they are going to do.

Terence T. Gorski
July 23, 2001

Civilian Victims of the Drug War

Donald Scott

Shirley Dorsey

Esequiel Hernandez

Gary Shepherd

In Memory of Civilian Casualties
of the Drug War

Family Watch, with the co-sponsorship of the Houston Community College System and Drug Policy Forum of Texas, held the first US memorial service in honor of youth who have died drug-related deaths. The event was held in collaboration with the Fourth Annual Remembrance Ceremony of Australia's Family and Friends for Drug Law Reform. The Houston event was held October 24, 1999, the second anniversary of the death of a local youth, Jared Ryan Jackson Lowry. Jared died of complications from an illegal drug he had taken, because his friends were afraid to seek medical help for him. They were afraid they would be arrested on drug charges if they sought help for their dying friend.

While this gallery discusses known cases of law enforcement's murder of civilians, several of whom fought back in self defense, many more such incidents have occurred that have not been documented. The names and incidents of many such casualties of the Drug War will never be known.

This page is dedicated to those victims, known and unknown, who died in the cross-fire of turf wars due to the profit motive of illegal drugs. To those killed or injured in police raids, and in raids based on bad tips or wrong addresses. To those who suffered painful deaths while being denied access to Medical Marijuana. To those who defy the laws to obtain their medicine of choice. To those who have contracted the AIDS / HIV virus due to the Drug Warrior mentality which discourages and criminalizes needle exchange programs. To those who died from contaminated drugs as a result of the black market. To those who died because they were denied essential support programs in order to fund the building of prisons and other prohibition enforcement structures.

Finally, it is further dedicated to all those compatriots who have fought for justice and are no longer with us to see when that day will come...

Jared Lowry

Jared Ryan Jackson Lowry died of medical complications from an illegal drug he had taken, because his friends were afraid to seek medical help for him. They were afraid they would be arrested on drug charges if they sought help for their dying friend.

Gerardo Anthony Mosquera Jr.

Age seventeen at his time of death from a self-inflicted bullet to his head in 1998. Gerardo Mosquera, Jr., a teen who took his studies seriously and worked after school to help support his family, became despondent when his father, a legal resident in the US for 29 years, was deported by the INS in December, 1997.

Mosquera Sr., 38, was sent back to Colombia, his native country that he hardly knew, despite the fact his wife and children were born in the US and he was gainfully employed as a forklift operator. His father's deportation came as a result of a crackdown on so-called "criminal aliens." His sole felony conviction stemmed from the sale of one $10 bag of marijuana to a police informant in 1989. As this law bans people from ever returning to the US, he was even denied permission to return for his son's funeral.

Jonathan West

His death from AIDS inspired his friends to sponsor the Medical Marijuana Initiative of 1991. San Francisco's Proposition P won with 80% of the vote. 

Rev. Accelyne Williams

Retired Methodist minister Accelyne Williams was chased around his Boston, MA apartment by members of a police team looking for drugs and guns, when he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 75. Acting on a tip by an informant, the police conducted a no-knock raid.

No guns or drugs were found, as it was soon discovered they raided the wrong apartment!

The DA said that property forfeiture was a key motive in his killing.Donald Scott

Age 62 at the time of his death at his home in Malibu, CA. on October 2, 1992.

Scott and his wife, Frances Plante, were awakened by violent pounding at the door on the morning of October 2, 1992. As Frances attempted to open the door, a narcotics task force from the LA County Sheriff's Dept. burst into the home, weapons in hand.

Frances was pushed forcefully from the door at gun point. She cried out, "Don't shoot me, don't kill me!" With a gun aimed at her head, Frances looked to her right and saw Donald charging into the room, waving a revolver above his head. She heard a deputy shout, "Put the gun down! Put the gun down! Put the gun down!" As Scott was doing so, Frances heard three gun shots ring out, apparently from two sources.

Her husband was killed instantly.

Scott was a millionaire who owned 250 acres of breathtakingly beautiful land that was adjacent to federal park lands. Attempts had been made by the feds to buy the property, but Scott was not interested in selling. Claims that there might be pot growing on the land, made by agents who did aerial surveillance, were used to get a search warrant.

An official inquiry suggested that agents had hoped this raid would lead to asset forfeiture of the property Scott would not sell. The coroner's report listed the cause of death as a homicide. No marijuana was found. Scott did not even smoke it. In January, 2000, the Scott family won a $5 million wrongful death settlement from the government over the shooting.

Leon Kelly

Age 15 at time of death in Janesville, WI. Joe Zwaska, an undercover police officer, had been drinking before he fatally shot the teen. Tests showed Leon had traces of marijuana in his blood.

Ronald C. Loop, Jr.

Age 25 at time of death on March 11, 1988 in Brick Township, NJ. Suspected of marijuana dealing, Loop had just picked up a Federal Express package that contained 10 pounds of marijuana. He was unarmed and was shot as he fled from police outside his home.

Chad MacDonald

When told he was facing a lengthy jail sentence after being arrested with about a half ounce of methamphetamine, seventeen year-old high school student, Chad MacDonald, agreed to act as an informant for the Brea Police Department in California.

The pressure he was under to make a buy large enough to satisfy the police and avoid prosecution on his charges led directly to his torture and death at a suspected drug house on March 3, 1998 and the rape and shooting of his sixteen year-old girlfriend, who had accompanied him. Revenge was alleged as the motive in court documents filed on two suspects who were arrested for the attacks.

Following assurances that her son would not be in danger if she agreed to allow him to act as an informant as they proposed, his mother, Cindy, signed the department's release form. This allowed Chad to go home. At that time, she was unaware that the arrangement involved Chad wearing a wire while making a buy until after one had taken place. Chad had confided in his mother that he felt pressured to make increasingly larger buys and that detectives had said his three previous undercover buys were not enough to make his legal problems go away. Mrs. MacDonald repeatedly told police that she had wanted him to end the arrangement.

Had she been advised that he could have qualified for a high intensity drug treatment program rather than faced hard time in custody, she would have jumped at it. Mrs. MacDonald believes her son would be alive today if the police had handled his case differently. Brea police deny he was working for them on the day he died.

Esequiel Hernandez

May 14, 1979 - May 20, 1997

The first US citizen killed by military troops on US soil since 1970, when students were killed by National Guard troops at a Kent State University Vietnam War protest.

Esequiel 'Zeke' Hernandez, born and raised in Texas, was considered one of Redford's "best and the brightest" with aspirations of becoming a game warden or park ranger. He was only eighteen years old at the time of his death, in the isolated border town of Redford, Texas (with a population of almost 100).

Esequiel was born the year before Ronald Reagan was elected President. Prior to Reagan's administration, the Posse Comitatus Act had prevented active duty military troops from engaging in domestic law enforcement. During his term it was amended to allow troops to be on patrol in the Drug War at home.

Zeke was tending his family goat herd when he was shot by 22-year-old Marine Corporal Banuelos, who was part of the Joint Task Force Six, a military unit assigned to anti-drug operations. The Marines, dressed in camouflage battle fatigues, were hiding in the bushes looking for drug smugglers.

While tending the goats, Zeke carried a rifle that his grandfather had given him to use to protect the goats from snakes and wild animals. The marines claim that he fired two shots in their direction, and upon seeing him raise his rifle again, Banuelos fired the fatal shot from an M-16. Townspeople claim they only heard one shot. The autopsy showed that Esequiel was not facing Banuelos when he was killed. He lay bleeding on the ground unattended for twenty minutes before he died.

The townspeople had no idea that Marines were patrolling the area in camouflaged outfits known as 'ghillie suits,' which make them virtually invisible to the unknowing eye. They have been traumatized by the event. Children are afraid to go out and play. Adults are afraid to take an evening stroll. People do not believe that the area is a major drug smuggling route, and they're uncomfortable with having Marines, who are trained to kill, on ground patrol in their backyards or flying low in helicopters that scare goats and people.

Normally when dealing with such traumatic events, the government sends in counselors to help people cope with the situation. But the town of Redford received no help. In fact, the government has not even apologized to Zeke's family. It has not admitted any mistakes, and has not cleared Esequiel of any wrongdoing. However, in January, 1998, it was announced that no charges would be filed against the Marine who killed him. Esequiel's family won a wrongful death suit against the government.

Robert Lee Peters

Age 33 at time of death in St. Petersburg, FL in July, 1994. Deputies did not identify themselves before breaking into the house as the family prepared to watch a movie. Friends and relatives say Robert may have mistaken them for burglars. Deputies did not know there were two children and his ailing stepfather (who had a heart attack after the shoot-out) in the house at the time of the no-knock raid.

The police tried to smash through the front door with a battering ram. Peters fired a .357 magnum through the door and was struck three times by the SWAT team.

Two pounds of marijuana were confiscated from his home. Records indicate that a confidential informant bought 7.3 grams of marijuana. An undercover detective purchased 27 grams. His brother George was charged and did not resist arrest. George said his brother wouldn't have resisted either, had he known they were deputies. "All they had to do," he said, "was knock on the door."

Manuel Ramirez

Age 26 at time of death in Albuquerque, NM in an early morning, no-knock drug raid in 1990. According to allegations in the lawsuit, Manuel was asleep on the living room couch in his home when Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team officers and Navy SEALS approached his front door and rear windows to serve a search warrant looking for cocaine.

The APD officers, with the assistance of one or more SEALs approached the house and rigged a cable between the apartment door and a tow truck. Police broke out windows in the apartment's two bedrooms, including one directly above a crib where a 5-month old baby was sleeping. The crash of glass woke up a niece who ran from the bedroom and called to her uncle, because she was afraid the family was being robbed, the complaint says. 

Manuel reached for an unloaded gun just as the tow truck ripped the door off the apartment. Police and SEALs burst into the apartment and shot Ramirez twice in the chest without announcing who they were, nor giving any order to drop the weapon before firing. Officers allegedly threw his wife and her niece to the floor, handcuffed them and, for the first time, announced they were police. Police found two marijuana cigarettes, a bottle with methamphetamine pills, and a spoon with drug residue in the search. 

Annie Rae Dixon

Age 84 and bedridden when she was killed by police in a 1992 drug raid in East Texas. No drugs were found in the home. A 28 year-old officer said his automatic pistol accidentally discharged when he kicked open Mrs. Dixon's bedroom door.

Earlier that night, an informant was given $30 to go into the Dixon home where he claimed he could buy drugs. He emerged with crack cocaine, but police did not search him either before and after the purchase. The informant reported that a few young women and children lived there, but he didn't know about the sick woman. Police got a search warrant and returned to the house just after 2 am. They sprinted up the ramshackle porch and smashed the front door with a battering ram. As they swept in, the officer kicked in the door to Ms. Dixon's bedroom and fell, slamming his elbow against the door and firing the gun. The officer said he collapsed and "started throwing my guts up crying because I knew I had shot somebody that didn't have no reason to be shot."

Shirley Dorsey

Aged 56 at the time of her suicide in the face of criminal prosecution for cultivation of Medical Marijuana

On April 1, 1991, Shirley Dorsey committed suicide. She had used cannabis to help control her crippling back pain. Shirley could not face the prospect of testifying against her 70-year-old boyfriend, Byron Stamate, who had been arrested for growing marijuana for her medicine.

Driven to suicide by the prosecution of her boyfriend.Under the relentless attack of an ambitious prosecutor, she became depressed about the very real possibility of being left impoverished and homeless, due to the forfeiture proceedings on their property.

The text of Shirley Dorsey's suicide note follows:

"They want to take our property, security and herbal medicine from us, even though we have not caused harm to anyone.

"It is not fair or in the best interest of the people of society.

"I will never testify against you or our right to our home. I will not live in the streets without security and a place to sleep.

"I am old, tired and ill, and I see no end to the harassment and pressures until they destroy us."

Bruce Lavoie

On August 3, 1989, Lavoie lay peacefully sleeping in the room he shared with his young son in the village of Hudson, New Hampshire. At five in the morning he was awakened by a loud noise as his whole home was shaken violently. A battering ram had smashed his front door, and a dark band of armed men rushed into his small apartment.  Rising to defend his son, Lavoie was shot to death as his little boy watched helplessly. They found one cannabis cigarette butt.

Barbara and Kenny Jenks

Kenny Jenks was a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS through contaminated blood in 1980. He unknowingly infected his wife, Barbara. Both became too sick to work, and they lived on disability. They discovered and used marijuana to help them eat and gain strength following chemotherapy.

Following their arrest, their lawyer argued in court that this was a case of medical necessity. The prosecution agreed and noted that they would die if they did not use it. After a lengthy legal struggle that sapped their strength, the DEA allowed them into the federal 'Compassionate IND' program, which provides some patients with six pounds of marijuana per year for medical use. The Jenks went public with their story, and soon more than 300 other AIDS patients had applied to the program.

More than 30 of these had successfully proven their medical necessity and were approved through the proper channels when the Bush Administration abruptly shut down the intake program in 1992. Even those who had already been approved were denied access to the medicine, and only the few patients who were previously receiving government marijuana at that time have been allowed to continue to do so.

Once again, people who had attempted to obey the law found themselves with no legal recourse to get their necessary medicine.

There was a huge outpouring of patient requests to the Jenks to try to help, but they were powerless to do anything about it. Their crusade for justice and compassion had been wiped out at the moment of its triumph. The stress of their personal ordeal from arrest, prosecution and legal battle, to this final, abrupt, arbitrary and irrevocable change in the federal 'rules' regarding medical marijuana all took their toll on the infirm couple's health.

Frustrated and depressed, the Jenks took a turn for the worse, and both Barb and Kenny died soon after the IND program was terminated.

Jon Jon Wilson

December 1958 to May 1993. While fighting AIDS, he was a recognized fighter for medical marijuana.

John Fellin

John was 34 years old when he was shot five times and killed by a special drug task force in his home on February 28, 1992 in West Hazleton, PA. He died in front of his live-in girlfriend and one of his three children, two-year old Vanessa.

Fellin had been arrested on charges of marijuana distribution in 1984. He had not been in trouble since. Although the police claim that the 5'6", 140 lb. Fellin attacked a 6'6'' 260 lb. police officer and was wrestling with him over the officer's shotgun, the family reported that the police never announced themselves and "entered the residence with a patently invalid search warrant" (based on two $10 marijuana buys from Fellin to an undercover police officer in July, 1991). One pound of marijuana, a triple-beam scale and some baggies were found.

His family called his untimely death "cold-blooded murder."

Fought for our freedom; died for what?Gary Earl Shepherd

Age 45 at the time of his death at his home in Broadhead, KY, on August 8, 1993, after a day-long, casual standoff that began when a police helicopter flew over and landed outside the Shepherd home.  Gary was a Viet Nam veteran who had a crippled left arm from the war. Shepherd had deep conviction about medical marijuana, which he used to relieve his pain. He sat in a lawn chair guarding his plants for about six or seven hours, during which time no serious attempt was made to negotiate. Finally, Shepherd and his long-term companion, Mary Jane Jones, were ordered to put their hands in the air. As he raised his rifle to comply, police snipers hidden in a corn field shot Gary several times in the head and chest. Shepherd's four-year-old son, Jake, was sprayed with his father's blood. Mary Jane, the mother of his child, was grazed by a bullet of a Kentucky law enforcement officer.

Son of Bobby & Kathy Bowman

The eight year-old son of Bobby and Kathy Bowman was killed in his bed as a narcotics detective fired four shots, thinking that Mr. Bowman was about to leap out a window. His father was a suspected drug dealer. Kathy Smith Bowman said she and her husband thought they were being robbed.

Bobby Bowman picked up a shotgun he kept by the bed and opened fire. They lived in East Lake Meadows housing project in DeKalb County.

Scott W. Bryant

Age 29 at time of death when he was shot by police in Beaver Dam, WI, on April 28, 1995. Bryant was unarmed and did not resist in any way when police with a no-knock warrant charged through the door of his home. His 7-year-old son watched his father die, while an ambulance took 35 minutes to arrive. Police later reported finding less than 3 grams of marijuana (enough for 2 or 3 cigarettes. Police claim it may have been an accidental shooting.

The Drug War Goes Too Far - Other Examples

Abuse of Women & Children In US Correctional Institutions 4-23-01
Carnivore Threatens Internet Privacy Armey In House of Representatives  Concerned
Civilian Casualities of the Drug War - A Memorial
DEA Bomber's Story
DEA Declares War on Over-the-counter Products - Man Sentenced To 51 Months In Jail
DEA Letter To ASAM Regarding The Prescription Of Narcotics
Drug Laws Used For Entrapment In Custody Case
Drug Use During Pregnancy - Enforcement vs. Treatment
Drug War Goes Bad In Jacksonville Florida
Drug War Uses Thermal Imaging Technology To Probe Private Homes
Drug War: This Is Your Country On Drugs - July 4, 2001
Drug Warriors Crack Down On Geriatric Drug Criminals 010710
House Burnt Down In Drug Raid In St. Petersburg 7-15-01
Juveniles in Adult Prisons and Jails
Ketamine Update 7-13-01
Male Guards in Women's Prisons
Michael Nader of All My Children Arrested On Drug Charges
Owner of House Burned-down In Drug Raid Wants Public Apology
OxyContin - A Prescribing Doctor May Face Murder Charges
OxyContin - New York Times Article July 29, 2001
OxyContin - Why DEA Enforcement Is Misguided
OxyContin: Florida Curbs Distribution
PICS Reading Assignment 02 - Colorado's ADX Supermax Prison 010831.htm
Plan Columbia Update - U.S. Should Seek Better Options
Student Assistance Programs vs Drug Testing
Woman Is Convicted of Killing Her Fetus by Smoking Cocaine

 

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