So sometimes us bloggers post something that really should resonate with the general public, and it just sits there. Certainly, this site and Radley’s and others have posted plenty of Drug War Victim stories. Some got some traction, others didn’t. Long term, they do very well (my Drug War Victims page is a heavy hitter, as is Radley’s Cato Raidmap page).
Then again, sometimes something hits just right viscerally, and it spreads like wildfire. Such was the case with the video of the drug raid in Missouri that I posted a couple of days ago. Radley had already posted it, Scott Morgan added his two cents, then it got picked up at FireDogLake, Boing-Boing, Opposing Views, Huffington, HorsesAss, Transform, NORML, etc. and went nuts on messageboards.
It built up so strong so fast, that the Mayor and Police Chief had to hold a press conference yesterday afternoon to address the issues.
In response to widespread “misinformation” developing on message boards and blogs, as well as a death threat toward Columbia police officers, Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid and Burton held a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Bloggers and others from around the world have bombarded the Columbia Police Department this week with phone calls, e-mails, and even a threatening fax concerning the search warrant. McDavid said it is important that the city’s police department continue to have the confidence of residents. An internal review is scheduled for completion in two weeks.
A couple of points…
- Regardless of what one may feel about the officers involved in this case or any other, if someone issue death threats againg them, then that person is no friend of drug policy reform or justice.
- They didn’t get misinformation from this site.
Anytime something goes viral, it happens so fast that some of the participants in the spread don’t take the time to sort through the details properly. (Remember the telephone game?) So yes, I saw comments that there were kids (plural), that there was a girl (it was a boy), that the dog was shot while in a cage, that the Corgi was killed, that both dogs were killed, etc. So I appreciate that the Mayor and Chief came forward to clarify some of those misconceptions that existed.
The real story isn’t any better.
The chief, who is personally conducting the internal investigation, walked reporters through his understanding of the incident. Three officers shot at the pit bull, and the first missed completely, which is when the corgi is believed to have been shot in the paw, he said. The pit bull acted aggressively toward a SWAT member again as they pushed into the home, which resulted in the animal being shot, he said. After being shot, it moved to attack a SWAT member, which is when the dog was killed.
One of the results of the viral video showing is that the Police Chief is now publicly saying that the warrant should not have been executed. That’s pretty huge.
The reason is a little bizarre.
Burton said the state of Missouri allows police 10 days to execute a signed warrant and that he thinks Columbia officers should have done so immediately in this case.
Investigators believed Whitworth was in possession of a large amount of marijuana and was considered a distributor. The raid ended with a misdemeanor amount of marijuana discovered and two of Whitworth’s dogs shot.
“It’s my opinion that it needs to be served as soon as possible,” Burton said of the warrant. “The contraband can be disposed of. If they are going to do that, there is not much point in serving the warrant.”
Burton said as of Feb. 12, the day after the SWAT team’s entry at Whitworth’s home, warrants have been ordered to be executed immediately.
They waited 8 days to serve the warrant.
Interestingly, an earlier report said:
Because the SWAT team acts on the most updated information available, the team wanted to enter the house before marijuana believed to be at the location could be distributed, she said.
“If you let too much time go by, then the drugs are not there,” she said.
Drug distributors traditionally have a history with firearms, which is why the SWAT team is used when executing such warrants, [police spokeswoman Officer Jessie] Haden said. If the SWAT team believed they could have executed the warrant successfully during the daytime when the wife and child were not present, they would have, she said.
So they waited 8 days, but couldn’t wait a few more hours until the wife and child weren’t present.
Something stinks. But that’s always true when you use SWAT to go after a plant.