According to data compiled by the New York Times, at least 20 SWAT raids since 2010 that involved suspected cannabis dealers have resulted in the death of the suspect or a police officer participating in the raid, the Washington Post reports.
According to the figures, four police officers were killed intentionally or otherwise while conducting a SWAT raid for cannabis, and at least three suspects who were killed possessed fewer than 5 grams at the time of the raid.
A Tampa, Florida raid in 2014 left the suspect, 29-year-old Jason Westcott, dead after police said they observed him with a firearm – although no shots were fired at police. In that case officers found .2 grams of cannabis. Two years later, another Tampa man, 22-year-old Levonia Riggins, was shot and killed in his bed by police during a raid that uncovered 2 grams of cannabis on his person. No other cannabis was found in the home and Riggins was unarmed.
In 2010, Las Vegas, Nevada police raided the home of 21-year-old Trevon Cole after undercover officers purchased 1.8 ounces of cannabis from him over four deals. In that case, Bryan Yant, the detective, used false information – that of another suspect – to acquire a warrant for the raid from a judge. Cole was shot by police as he was flushing cannabis down the toilet. Police found neither weapons in his home, nor any cannabis beyond “bits…floating in the toilet.”
In 2013, a Somerville, Texas raid on the home of Henry Magee left police investigator Frederich Sowers dead. Officers were investigating a tip from a criminal informant about a 12-plant grow when they kicked in Magee’s door who fired in their direction with a semi-automatic rifle believing he was being robbed. In that case Magee was acquitted of capital murder, with one juror asking the Times, “Why in the world would you do a full-out assault on a guy growing pot?”
Of the 65 deadly raids since 2010, 24 were for non-drug crimes, while 41 were for the suspected sale of drugs other than cannabis.