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A tragic case of false information led to the tragic death of a man, killed in a SWAT raid that seized a mere $2.00 worth of marijuana.

January 14, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
A tragic case of false information led to the tragic death of a man, killed in a SWAT raid that seized a mere $2.00 worth of marijuana. Image courtesy of hangthebankers.com

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A drug informant identified and accused Jason Westcott of dealing drugs for the Tampa Bay Police Department, despite Westcott’s having no previous criminal record.

The informant, known as Ronnie “Bodie” Coogle, later confessed to lying to the police but it was too late, according to the Tampa Bay Times:

Coogle said they were all wrong. He said he repeatedly lied about suspects, stole drugs he bought on the public’s dime and conspired to falsify drug deals.One of those he lied about, he said, was Jason Westcott, a young man with no criminal convictions whom a SWAT team killed during a drug raid that found just $2 worth of marijuana. Critics from across the country condemned the Police Department’s handling of the case as an example of the drug war’s lethal excesses.

“They’re making statements that are lies, that are absolute untruths, that are based on shady facts,” Coogle said of Tampa police. “Everything they’re saying is based on the informant. And I was the informant.”

The victim of the SWAT raid, Jason Westcott, had fears of being robbed and even armed himself, on the advice of officers who had investigating threats Westcott reported.

Westcott, those close to him said, was left with a word of advice from the investigating officers: If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.

When the SWAT team broke down his door, at the permission of a no-knock warrant, Westcott reached for his gun to protect himself from what he thought were robbers. He was met by a wave of gunfire by the SWAT agents, and died in his home.

Questions circling this story about the amount of force authorities used in the raid and the methods that were used to conduct the investigation. The initial explanation for the source of information had been supposed complaints from neighbors.

Police initially said that the investigation of Westcott’s alleged drug dealing began because of neighbors’ complaints. However, when the Times could find no neighbors who had called police and no records of the complaints, the department revised this assertion, saying the case began with a tip from the same informer who later bought the marijuana.

This incident has led to major questions being asked about the methods of drug law enforcement, after a number of botched raids, and now many are demanding reforms.

From IJ Review

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