Yesterday at the Washington Post, which I saw just this morning, Radley Balko found two stories that make the blood boil. His headline says it all: “A dead cop, a dead suspect, a wounded cop and a terrified, hospitalized grandmother.” He’s writing, of course, about the war on drugs.
Early Sunday morning, it seems, just after midnight, two Howard County, Indiana, sheriff’s officers tried to serve a warrant in a trailer park in Russiaville, Indiana, by forcibly entering the home. The result? Read the headline again. And what was the alleged crime? Possession of a syringe. That’s right.
So a deputy is dead, a suspect is dead, and a third deputy was seriously wounded because a guy failed to appear in court after he was arrested for possessing a syringe. The Indianapolis Star reports that the suspect had prior arrests for drug possession. Not distribution. Just possession.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Balko continues, an 82-year-old great-grandmother, Elizabeth Harrison, was given the scare of her life last Friday when cops, guns drawn, broke down her door and ordered her to put up her hands. They had the wrong house, she later told reporters from her hospital bed. “They wanted me to produce this young man that they were looking for. And they would not take no for an answer that I didn’t know him.”
As Balko notes, this case has a bizarre twist (in part, quoting the original story):
The man police were looking for walked up to the officers as they were explaining to Harrison’s family how they can fill out paperwork to file a claim to get her door fixed . . .
Linda Channel, Harrison’s daughter who lives on the same block as her and rushed over following the raid, said the “target” told cops they had the wrong house . . .
“You all came to the wrong house. I live at 126, and this is 136,” Channel told ABC, quoting the man.
In the end, the police didn’t even arrest him, due to lack of evidence. Harrison is lucky she’s still alive. She isn’t the first innocent grandmother to be wrongly raided. Or the second. Or the third.
She also wouldn’t have been the first grandmother to be killed in a mistaken drug raid. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth.
Read the whole piece here. This insane war on drugs has got to end.