Friday, December 24, 2010

Marijuana Drug War Victims Post 1 Via MPP

Victim Stories


    Alberta Spruill

    On May 16, 2003, 57-year-old Alberta Spruill died of a heart attack shortly after police mistakenly raided her Harlem, New York, apartment for drugs. The office of the city medical examiner attributed her death to "the stress and the fear that she experienced" during the raid.


    Bryan Epis

    Chronic pain sufferer Bryan Epis was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for growing medical marijuana for himself and others. He served more than two years of his sentence before being released while the Supreme Court considered Gonzales v. Raich. In 2010, he was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.

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    Peter McWilliams

    Writer, poet and publisher Peter McWilliams used medical marijuana to relieve the pain he suffered from cancer and AIDS. He also took advantage of his prominence as a writer and public figure to advocate in favor of medical marijuana laws. As a result, he was investigated, raided, arrested, and put on trial by the federal government. In 2000, while out on bond and unable to use marijuana to ease his nausea, he began vomiting, choked on his vomit, and died.


  • Sanderson and Weigand

    Jeffre and Alice Sanderson

    Jeffre Sanderson and his wife, Alice Wiegand, owned a garden that supplied medical marijuana to ten patients under California state law. But because the federal government did not recognize California’s Compassionate Use Act, the couple was arrested in 2006 and had their children turned over to social services.




    Roni and Charity Bowers

    On April 20, 2001, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency ordered the Peruvian Air Force to shoot down a plane suspected of smuggling drugs out of Peru. The plane was carrying not drugs but American religious missionaries Jim and Roni Bowers; Roni and seven-month-old daughter Charity died in the shooting.

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    Kathryn Johnston

    Members of a Georgia narcotics investigation team shot and killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during a drug raid in her Atlanta home November 21, 2006.





    Robin Prosser

    Robin Prosser, of Missoula, Montana, used medical marijuana to treat an immunosuppressive disorder similar to lupus. Despite spending years in a successful fight to help establish a medical marijuana law in her state, federal authorities continued interfering with her access to medicine. On Oct. 18, 2007, after spending months in excruciating pain and unable to acquire the type and quality of medical marijuana she needed, Prosser took her own life.


    Clayton Helriggle

    On September 27, 2002, armed police officers raided a rural farmhouse in West Alexandria, Ohio, based on a tip from a convicted felon that there were drugs in the house. Nearly 30 officers, clad in body armor and riot shields, stormed the house with a battering ram and detonated stun grenades to disorient the occupants of the house. Awoken from his nap by the noise, 23-year-old Clayton Helriggle walked downstairs — allegedly with a gun — and was promptly shot in the chest by police. Two minutes later, he was dead in the arms of a roommate.


    Rhiannon Kephart

    In January 2005, 18-year-old Rhiannon Kephart received second- and third-degree burns to her chest and stomach when police set off a stun grenade during a drug raid. Kephart was not a target of the investigation.


    Esequiel Hernandez

    On May 20, 1997, 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez was shot in the back by U.S. Marines patrolling the Texas-Mexico border for drug smugglers. Hernandez, who was tending his family's herd of goats, bled to death. He was the first U.S. civilian to be killed by U.S. armed forces since the 1970 political protests at Kent State University.


    Jonathan Magbie

    Twenty-seven-year-old Jonathan Magbie died while serving a 10-day sentence for marijuana possession in a Washington, D.C., jail. Magbie, a quadriplegic since age 4, used his chin to operate a motorized wheelchair and required a ventilator to help him breathe. The jail could not provide the medical help he needed, and by the time he was taken to a hospital, he was dead. Magbie was a first-time offender who told the judge that marijuana made him feel better and that he didn't think there was anything wrong with using it.


    Jimmy Montgomery

    Paraplegic medical marijuana patient Jimmy Montgomery was given a life sentence (later reduced to 10 years) for possessing two ounces of marijuana with intent to distribute. Evidence that he intended to distribute the marijuana came from a sheriff's deputy who was later convicted of embezzling seized property and assets.


    Don Nord

    Though he was licensed in Colorado to use marijuana for medical purposes, 57-year-old Don Nord was arrested by DEA agents in 2003 and had his marijuana seized. Charges against Nord were eventually dismissed, but a federal court held in July 2005 that the DEA was not required to return his marijuana.


    Donald Scott

    On October 2, 1992, 61-year-old Donald Scott was shot and killed by county sheriff's deputies on his ranch in Malibu, California. The deputies had a warrant claiming that Scott was growing thousands of marijuana plants on his property, but no marijuana plants were found. The federal government and Los Angeles County later settled a wrongful death lawsuit from Scott's family for $5 million.


    Suzanne Pfeil

    Suzanne Pfeil is a paraplegic who suffers from severe pain and muscle spasms linked to post-polio syndrome. On September 5, 2002, more than 20 armed federal agents raided her medical marijuana hospice, holding assault rifles to the heads of patients and their caregivers. When Pfeil was unable to stand, the agents handcuffed her behind her back and left her on the bed for several hours.


    Carter Singleton

    65-year-old Carter Singleton was arrested for cultivating marijuana in 2003. Carter, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2001, was using medical marijuana to stimulate his appetite, after chemotherapy treatments caused him to lose 80 pounds in 5 months.


    Tyrone Brown

    Tyrone Brown served 17 years of a life sentence for testing positive for marijuana while on probation for a $2 stickup committed when he was 17. No one involved was ever able to explain the severe penalty.




    Palm Beach County, Florida, school raid

    Fifteen high school students in Palm Beach County, Florida, were arrested in January 2005 for selling drugs on school property. Some of the teens had sold as little as $10 worth of marijuana to undercover police officers who had befriended them. The teens, who will be tried as adults, face up to 15 years' imprisonment.


    Marisa Garcia

    In March 2000, 19-year-old Marisa Garcia lost financial aid for college because of a federal law that denies financial aid to those convicted of drug offenses. Garcia, who had paid a $415 fine after a police officer found a pipe with marijuana residue in her car's glove compartment, nearly had to delay college for a year because of this punitive federal law.


    Anthony Diotaiuto

    On August 5, 2005, 23-year-old Anthony Diotaiuto was killed after a SWAT team shot him ten times. Officers barged into his home at 6:15 a.m. with a search warrant, looking for marijuana; Diotaiuto, presumably fearing burglars, grabbed a handgun and was subsequently shot. The officers eventually found a little over an ounce of marijuana.

imageCheryl Noel

  • In January 2005, 44-year-old Cheryl Noel was shot and killed by police officers raiding her Maryland home for drugs. Noel, who had been asleep when the raid started, came to her bedroom door with a gun — presumably in self-defense — and was shot and killed. Noel's husband, son, and a family friend staying in the house were charged with possession of a small quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.


    Goose Creek, South Carolina, School Raid

    In November 2003, police officers with guns drawn swept through Stratford High School in South Carolina. Officers held guns to the backs of 130 students — a majority of whom were black though the school population is only 25% black — who were ordered to lie on the floor or kneel against lockers while police dogs sniffed for drugs. No drugs were found and no arrests were made.


    Gary Silva

    Medical marijuana patient Gary Silva, who suffers from degenerative disk disease and nerve damage, was asleep in his Sky Valley, California home, when he heard a knock on the door. When Gary, who cultivated marijuana in his home on behalf of his patients' collective, went to undo the deadbolt, DEA agents kicked in the door. The force sent Gary sprawling to the floor, dislocating his shoulder and causing lacerations to his face.


    Lester Siler

    In July 2004, Lester Eugene Siler, 42, was brutalized by five rogue police officers in his Tennessee home. Siler, who is illiterate, was beaten and threatened with shooting and electrocution and had his head held underwater in a toilet after refusing to sign a search consent form that he could not read. Siler's wife caught the incident on an audiotape which was later used to convict all five officers.

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    The Naulls Family

    Ronald Naulls already had two successful careers when he established the Healing Nations Collective in Corona in 2006 to save fellow patients the hours-long drive to Los Angeles for medicine. Although it was widely considered a model medical marijuana dispensary, DEA agents invaded the Naulls family's home and businesses on July 17, 2007. They arrested Ronald and turned his three young daughters over to county child protective services, which charged him and his wife with child endangerment.


    James Burton

    Glaucoma patient James Burton served one year in prison and lost his home after being convicted of possession of marijuana. He now lives in the Netherlands, where he can obtain his marijuana by prescription from pharmacies.


    Matthew Ducheneaux

    In July 2000, 36-year-old Matthew Ducheneaux was arrested for smoking marijuana in a park in South Dakota. Ducheneaux was a quadriplegic who used marijuana with his doctor's permission to treat violent muscle spasms. Ducheneaux, unable to tell the jury that he used marijuana for medical reasons, was eventually convicted of marijuana possession and forbidden from using his medicine for a year.


    Unnamed Florida college student

    On June 6, 2003, a 19-year-old Alachua County, Florida, college student was raped by his cellmate as he served the first of four weekend sentences for delivering marijuana, a felony offense. The student's cellmate was a violent offender in jail awaiting trial on sexual battery charges; the two men shared a cell because of jail overcrowding.


    Weldon Angelos

    Twenty-five-year-old Weldon Angelos was sentenced to 55 years in prison for selling several hundred dollars' worth of marijuana to a police informant on three separate occasions ' his first offenses. Because he had a gun during the commission of his crimes, though did not use or brandish it, he received a sentence that even his judge called "unjust, cruel, and even irrational."


    Will Foster

    Will Foster, a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer and father of two, was sentenced to 93 years in prison for charges relating to the 25-plant medical marijuana garden he grew in a locked room in his basement.


    Webster Alexander

    In January 2003, 19-year-old Webster Alexander of Alabama received a 26-year prison sentence for selling $350 of marijuana within three miles of a school. A judge later reduced Alexander's sentence to one year in prison, one year of probation, and community service, but the initial 26-year sentence made international headlines for its severity.

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