The Huffington Post recently featured a story by Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. The article centers around the death of Cheryl Ann Stillwell, a middle-aged single woman, shot to death in a police raid gone awry.
According to Balko, Stillwell was a recluse, afraid of the drug activity she witnessed in her neighborhood. Stillwell did own a handgun, and she had installed surveillance video equipment in and around her home. But it wasn’t the undesirable element whom she needed to fear, it was a militarized SWAT team, enforcing a warrant with no name and no address – merely a description of her house as given by an unidentified informant, seeking to save his own skin.
This tragic tale is really a he said, she said of complex lies and deception. A story of police so bent on capturing drug dealers, that they will rely on coercion and hearsay. Stillwell, apparently was on a doctor’s prescription for Oxycontin, of which she gave 2 pills to a neighbor who claimed to be suffering from pain. Shortly afterward, the neighbor was arrested, and in order to cop a deal, turned in Stillwell.
At five-thirty in the morning, on December 22, 2005, SWAT team agents armed to the teeth, kicked in her front door. It was to be one of 3 raids, that day. In a haze of sleep, Stillwell went for her gun, but forensic evidence reveals she didn’t fire it. One of the officers claims to have seen her finger twitch on the trigger – in the darkened house. She died in a hail of gunfire.
And in Florida, to this day, all drug related search and arrest warrants are carried out by SWAT teams.
But Cheryl Ann Stillwell isn’t the only victim here. As America’s insatiable desire for narcotics increases, coupled with her insane need to criminalize drug use – as she seeks to lock up more and more of her citizens while further militarizing the police in the War on Drugs, we all become the victims. Cheryl Ann Stillwell never got her day in court. She never had her Miranda rights read her. At 5:30 in the morning, a small paramilitary force – a junta – busted into her home and killed her in her bed. And we are OK with that.
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
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