Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Drug War Double Standards

Radley Balko has the latest on yet another drug raid gone wrong, this time in Columbus Ohio. There's been no statements that any drugs were found, witnesses on the scene claim not have heard an announcement by police before they came through the door, and two cops were shot and injured. Two men are being held on charges of attempted murder, one of whom is former Ohio State football player Derrick Foster, a man with no criminal record.

It should be noted that the story is still developing and all the facts have not emerged. But regardless of the specifics, Balko sums things up rather nicely:

One again we have a someone facing serious charges for shooting at police during a volatile, confrontational forced entry raid to serve a drug warrant. Again we have injured cops, and again we have a guy who otherwise would have no motivation to want to harm a police officer. But instead of questioning if it's a wise policy to put an ordinary citizen in the perilous position of having to determine in the heat of the moment if the men breaking in on him are cops or criminal intruders, the state has again decided to prosecute the citizen—for making the kind of error in judgment it rarely prosecutes police for making under similar circumstances. And the raids will undoubtedly continue.

When police are involved in an accidental shooting, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Why shouldn't that same benefit of the doubt be given to ordinary citizens who find their homes being raided by armed gunmen? When the result of such questionable raids is the death of an innocent person (like Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta), there tends to be greater scrutiny and more investigation. But when it's the cops who are injured or killed, there seems to be a frenzied rush to prosecute the shooter. I understand that cops put their life on the line- part of this push to end these types of drug war raids is to better protect our law enforcement by not creating dangerous situations. But it's not at all logical to react to these disasters based solely on who the victims happen to be.


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