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Botched Raids & Collateral Casualties in the Drug WarThe War on Drugs erodes civil liberties
and unleashes a reign of terror on innocent "civilians".
Minister dies as cops raid wrong apartmentBy Joseph Mallia and Maggie Mulvihill
A 75-year-old retired minister died of a heart attack last night after strug gling with 13 heavily armed Boston Police officers who stormed the wrong Dor chester apartment in a botched drug raid.
The Rev. Accelyne Williams struggled briefly when the raiding officers - some of them masked and carrying shotguns - subdued and handcuffed him, then he collapsed, police said.
Williams, a retired Methodist minister, was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest at 4 p.m yesterday at Carney Hospital said hospital spokesman William Henderson.
"There is a likelihood or possibility that we did hit the wrong apartment," said Police Commissioner Paul Evans at a news conference last night. "If that's the case, then there will be an apology."
Evans said an investigation into the "facts and circumstances surrounding the execution of a search warrant" was under way. Said one police source: "It's a terrible thing that an innocent victim died. Everyone feels terrible. He was totally legitimate."
Said Verna Green, who was visiting her sister in another apartment in the building: "They scared him to death." Police raided the second floor apartment at 118 Whitfield St. based on inform ation from a confidential informant, the source said. No shots were fired. "Everything was done right, except it was the wrong apartment," the source said.
"When you're going in, you're expecting heavily armed people. (The entry team's) job is to put everyone down, then withdraw. Then the other unit goes in." According to the source, police were grilling the informant last night, and are still interested "in an apartment in that building - just not the Williams apartment."
Mayor Thomas M. Menino expressed his sympathy to the victim's family, and asked Evans for a full report, said Mayoral spokeswoman Jacqueline Goddard. Evans said the drug officers, accompanied by the police entry team, went to the apartment where Williams and his wife, Mary, lived and forced their way in at 3:15 p.m., Evans said.
"With the assistance of the department's entry team, they did make a forced entry. A struggle ensued, and the occupant was handcuffed and collapsed,"Evans said.
Evans said it wasn't clear whether police officers knocked on Williams' dooror identified themselves before ramming down the door. Some of the 13 officers wore clothing that clearly identified them as Boston Police officers, Evans said.
Police found no drugs or weapons in the apartment, he said. Two neighbors mourned Williams as they watched a detective lead the retired minister's wife to a police car, hours after the bungled raid. The wife had been away from the apartment shopping when the raid took place, a police source said.
"Her husband is dead! He's dead!" said Callie Davis, 50, who lives in a fourth floor apartment with her husband and grandchildren. Williams and his wife had lived alone there for at last the past three years, she said. "I called her 'Mom' and him 'Pop.' I'm going to miss him," Davis said. "He's probably dead because he was so scared. He probably thought someone wastrying to kill him," Davis said.
Williams on Wednesday brought her three cans of evaporated milk - he knew she loved to drink it - and some pancake mix, Davis said. "He was like that. He always gave me things."
"I was in my house and I heard all this boom, boom, boom! It happened so quickly" said Verna Green. "This man died because of some dumb thing. The police should pay for this thing. They should pay big." Green said she saw police carrying a battering ram and shotguns, and she later saw officers performing CPR on Williams, trying to revive him. Williams' upstairs neighbor, Demetra Stinson, said he was a quiet man who had trouble climbing stairs. "He could barely move. He came up the stairs really slowly," Stinson said.
A police source said the result was clearly the result of "bad information." "The question now is whether the officer who prepared the warrant put down the wrong information, or did the informant dupe the unit," said the source.The head of the drug unit that conducted the raid was reported to be Lt. Det. Stanley Philpin, a seasoned veteran.
"I'm surprised if it was Stanley's unit," said one source. "He is one of the best, if not the best - a very capable guy.
"The drug detective who was with the entry team was so sure of the apartment that he literally pointed at the door and said, 'This is it.' Then they burst right in."
"You'd be surprised at how easily this can happen," said the source. "An info rmant can tell you it is apartment on the left at the top of the stairs and there could be two apartments on the left at the top of the stairs," the source said.
"Or people could rent rooms within an apartment that the informant doesn't know about. You are supposed to verify it, and I'm not making excuses, but mistakes can be made."
On "hits" or raids, members of the entry team generally wear black knit masks that are designed to "psychologically freeze people where they stand." The Williams' second-floor apartment building, at 116-118 Whitfield St., has eight apartments. The other three apartments on the Williams' side of the building are occupied by families with children, and the other second-floor apartment is also occupied by a family with children.
Seek Out Guns In BHA
For someone who claims to know the people and problems of public housing, Boston Housing Authority Administrator David Cortiella seems terribly out of touch. Cortiella is fighting a plan embraced by President Clinton as well as federal housing officials, that would allow searches of apartments for drugs, guns and other contraband. He calls the plan "martial law" and a violation of constitutional rights. Let's hope that Cortiella is simply misinformed when he uses rhetoric like that.
The constitution bans unreasonable searches; we think there's plenty of reason to introduce a kind of martial law in public housing. It's not as if police SWAT teams will routinely slam through the doors. The federal plan simply asks tenants to agree in their leases to allow searches without warrants, as a condition of their tenancy. "Too much of our public housing is in shambles," U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros said. "We must change course." The HUD secretary quoted a Chicago public housing tenant who, fed up with violence there, pleaded, "Just make it stop." Cortiella should listen to his own tenants, who live with gun shots and police sirens as a matter of routine. Tenants here too will tell him, "Just make it stop."
In his two-year, $60 billion Housing Choice and Community Investment Act of 1994, Cisneros has requested more money for community policing, youth recreation and other anti-crime efforts in public housingdevelopments. But the warrantless search plan is by far the most direct and effective way to rid developments of the criminal activities that destroy the quality of lives for those that live there. It is dramatic to be sure, but no more dramatic than violent crime in America, where a child dies of gunshot wounds every two hours. Cortiella is starting important initiatives to improve life in the projects. He says he wants to evict tenants when drugs are found in their apartments. But he's not willing to take the tough steps necessary to find those drugs in the first place. Bold leadership is needed to make public housing safe, and in Boston, the leadership is timid.
New York Post, September 9, 1993.
The Justice Department has confirmed that Brett Kimberlin was unfairly silenc ed during the 1988 presidential election. Kimberlin, who claims he was Dan Quayle's former pot dealer, was placed in solitary confinement by former prison director J. Michael Quinlan after scheduling a press conference to tell his story. Richard J. Hankinson, the Justice Department's inspector general, said in a report that although Kimberlin "was treated differently and held to a stricter standard of conduct" there was no "conspiracy to silence" him.
OFFICER, RETIREE KILLED IN BOGUS RAIDSacramento Bee, January 26, 1994
When Manuel Medina Ramirez, a 63-year-old retired golf-course groundskeeper, was routed from his slumber at 2 AM by armed men breaking down the door of his modest Stockton, CA. home, he instinctively reached for his bedside pistol. Shooting into the darkness, he brought one of the men down; the others return ed fire, and Ramirez was shot dead in front of his son and daughter, who had also been awakened.
The armed men turned out to be a Stockton police antidrug team who had obtained a warrant for the house after a friend of the Ramirez family was found with marijuana in his car and gave the police the Ramirez address as his own. "He died not knowing they were police officers," said Maria Ramirez, the victim's 23-year-old daughter. She said that her father had allowed the friend to use his address to get a driver's license. The officers claim they had identified themselves, but Maria says her father spoke poor English and couldn't understand them. No drugs were found in the house. "These were very quiet people," said a neighbor. "I never saw anything going on that could indicate drugs at all."
DEA Does It AgainDenver Post, July 16, 1993
A Colorado woman was hospitalized after eight DEA agents forced open her door, cursed her, and beat her to the ground - before realizing they were at thewrong house. Daniel Thomas, the man they were really after, was later charged with amphetamine manufacture. The Jefferson County DA has not commented on whether charges will be brought against the agents. In a letter to the DA, Wheat Ridge Mayor Ray Winger wrote that "drug manufacturers must be controlled but not by people who cannot even get the address for the raid correct."
AKRON DRUG SQUAD BUSTS DOWN WRONG DOORAkron Beacon Journal, March 23, 1993.
A 32-year-old mom and her three young kids were terrorized when a gang of black-clad men knocked down their front door and rushed into their apartment. Only when the family was lying on the floor at gunpoint did the mom, indentified only as Joyce, recognize the intruders as Akron police officers. "I never heard them indentify themselves," Joyce says. "All I saw were black uniforms, helmets and guns." The officers from the Akron Police Department Street Narcotic Uniform Detail shortly realized that the address on the warrant was incorrect. "It didn't look like any drug house," says unit leader Lt. Harold Craig.
CALIFORNIA COUPLE SUES IN BOTCHED RAIDSan Diego Union-Tribune, March 5, 1993
Michelle and Tony Jones of Poway, CA. have filed a $10 million suit against the DEA and Customs Department after they were detained and falsely accused of drug dealing. The couple were fingered by Ronnie B. Edmonds, the same informant whose bad tips had previously led to the botched drug raid which resulted in the shooting of an innocent San Diego business executive, Donald Carlson. Carlson, who was critically wounded, has his own $20 million lawsuit pending. Edmonds is wanted on 25 counts of making false statements to drug agents.
OREGON COUPLE WINS CASH SETTLEMENT
Seattle Times, December 12, 1993
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
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Short History of the Marijuana Laws
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Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
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Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
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