A police raid in El Monte, California, supposedly conducted in order to search for "marijuana, drug paraphernalia, money or guns", resulted in the completely avoidable death of a 64 year old grandfather.
The police attacked his house at about midnight on Aug. 9, 1999 by shooting off both the front and rear door locks, throwing a flash-bang grenade into the back yard and firing a "diversionary device" into a back room for illumination. Mario Paz, who was sleeping with his wife, arose from his bed and, seconds later, was dead from two gunshots in his BACK!. The police, still not satisfied or even acknowledging that their raid had gone horribly wrong after finding no drugs, no paraphernalia, and only $10,000 in cash (which turned out to be the family's life savings that had been removed from their account in Tijuana and for which the wife produced the withdrawal receipt) forced her to stand, handcuffed, in her own front yard in just her panties and with only a towel draped across her shoulders, all while her husband lay dead, just a few feet away, on the floor of their house.
Why had the police decided that they would find drugs in the Paz's home? Because one Marcos Beltran, the suspect they were presumably searching for, had lived next door to this residence in the 1980's, owned a car that he had bought six years ago from the Paz family and occasionally received mail at their address.
What did the officers state as their justification for murdering an unarmed man by shooting him twice in the back? There were, in all, three excuses given by the Sheriff's office. First, they claimed that he was armed when they fired, then they claimed they saw him reaching for a gun and they then fired, and, finally, it was because they saw him reaching for a draw that was later determined to hold guns (a .22-caliber rifle and three legally registered hand guns which the family stated was for protection in their high crime neighborhood).
What was the reaction from their El Monte police supervisors? Well, according to El Monte Assistant Police Chief Bill Ankeny, this was an "unfortunate incident". He went on to say that, "Any life, be it police or civilian, is certainly a tragedy. They certainly have our sympathy." Note that the loss of an officer's life comes first in his statement? I'll also bet that the family will end up with far more than just the El Monte Police Department's "sympathy". They will undoubtedly end up with a few million dollars out of the city's coffers. Of course, that money will not come from the officers who murdered Mr. Paz. It never does. Rather it will come out of the pockets of the taxpayers, people who had nothing to do with the insanity that cost an innocent man his life.
So, kiddies, what have we learned from all of this? First, that the El Monte Police Department feels justified in making commando-style attacks on homes where they have a search warrant. Second, that they can be so moronic as to request that warrant on such flimsy and contrived evidence (leaving the stupidity of the judge who allowed it for another discussion). Third, that their officers are, like far too many other officers, willing to shoot first and ask questions much later. Fourth, that even once confronted with their own blunder, they still have the malice to further torment the shackled widow of their victim by forcing her to expose herself to all of the neighbors and all of the other officers. Fifth, that the "War On Americans Who Use The Wrong Drugs" has created a Nazi-like attitude in our nation's law enforcement agencies where they have little or no reluctance to murder another human being for the "crime" of using or possessing those "wrong" drugs. Sixth, that the criminals who are guilty of this murder will undoubtedly try to hide behind their badges and the national paranoia about drugs. And last, but most importantly, that the killing of Mr. Paz adds just one more human being who has been murdered in this one-sided "war" and that this one death, alone, is one more than marijuana has caused in all of the history of mankind.
Unnecessary deaths such as Mr. Paz's will always be directly linked, not to the dangers of consuming marijuana, but to the obstinate folly of the Rabid Right's failures and abominations in their "zero tolerance" war on Americans at the behest of their owners in the alcohol and tobacco industries. Until America wakes up to the fact that thousands more innocent lives are lost in the "War On Americans Who Use The Wrong Drugs" than have ever been lost due to the consumption of those drugs, the deaths of the innocent and the deaths due to gang violence will continue without pause. Until America wakes up to the complete loss of so many of their Constitutional freedoms that they have so willingly surrendered in the name of this unholy war on Americans, the nation's law enforcement agencies will always include trigger happy cowboys who kill and maim with no hesitation, knowing that nearly anything is allowed in the name of the "War On Americans Who Use The Wrong Drugs". Finally, until America wakes up to the fact that it is impossible to have a "War on Drugs" since drugs are neither sentient nor armed and that the war is now and has always been an economic war against any American becoming dazed and confused on any substances except the products of the alcohol industry's tentacle of the dark and disreputable Corporate American nightmare. (1)
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