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January 2005
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Cheryl Noel, drug war victim

[Sadly, another one to add to my Drug War Victims page]
Cheryl Noel, 44, was shot to death by police in her upstairs bedroom last Friday. Details of the raid are just now fully surfacing, and there are still more questions than answers. (And I would really like to hear from anyone who knows more about this.)
Police raided a home in the Baltimore area and arrested Charles Noel, 51, Matthew Noel, 19, and Sarah Betz, 19. In the process of the raid, two officers opened the door to Cheryl’s bedroom and were allegedly met by Cheryl pointing a gun at them. One of the officers fired three times, killing Cheryl.

There is much speculation within the Gray Manor community about whether Noel intended to shoot the officer or was afraid of a burglary. Vinson said the officers conducting the search announced themselves well in advance.

“Flash-bangs were set off before the raid,” Vinson said, referring to small explosive devices used by police to distract intended targets of a raid and to protect officers. “And the officers yelled ‘Police, police, police’ throughout the course of the raid as is procedure.”

Of course, the raid was pre-dawn (before 5 am). So you’re sound asleep, and suddenly awakened by explosions, crashing sounds, feet tramping upstairs, and a lot of people yelling. How clear is your mind going to be? Can you distinguish that they’re identifying themselves as police officers? When the door to your bedroom opens and there’s two men dressed in black wearing ski masks pointing guns at you? Imagine yourself in that scenario. How would you react? What if you had a gun by your bed?
So why would they raid the house in this way? This appears to be a middle-aged mother and father with their son and his girlfriend living together — not some major gang. Cheryl’s co-worker at the wastewater treatment plant said she led a bible study group during lunch, and everybody around thought she was a great neighbor.
What then would be the reason to storm the house in the early morning? To prevent flushing. The standard reason for this kind of drug raid — they’re afraid someone’s going to destroy the evidence. That’s why they use this extremely dangerous assault technique.
And you know what that means…

To the drug warrior, evidence has a higher value than people’s lives.

And it doesn’t even seem to matter whether it’s significant evidence. In this case, Charles was charged with two counts of possession of black powder, and all three were charged with single counts of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. And all three were released on their own recognizance. I don’t know how much marijuana or black powder was involved, but it was apparently not even enough to keep them in jail.
And for that evidence, Cheryl was killed.

To the drug warrior, evidence has a higher value than people’s lives.

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