Drug Law

Las Vegas Police Kill Wrong Man Over 1.8 oz. of Marijuana

| by NORML
I’m sitting in PDX waiting to fly out to Las Vegas for Netroots Nation (watch my presentation at http://live.norml.org at 1:45 pm Pacific) when I happen upon a Las Vegas story by Mike Meno at the MPP Blog. Remember the story we brought you about the Las Vegas man shot and killed by police in front of his pregnant fiancée?

Turns out, the police shot the wrong guy.

(Las Vegas Review-Journal) Las Vegas police say they thought Trevon Cole was a hard-core drug dealer with a long record of arrests in Texas and California when they broke down his apartment door and pointed a gun at his head last month.

They were wrong.

Cole, 21, was unarmed when he was killed by a single rifle round fired by Detective Bryan Yant, who a week before the raid swore under oath that Cole had a “lengthy criminal history of narcotics sales, trafficking and possession charges” in Houston and Los Angeles.

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But Cole’s record in his native California was limited to a conviction for misdemeanor unlawful taking of a vehicle. He probably never even visited Houston.

Investigators might have confused him with another Trevon Cole — one with a different middle name who is seven years older, at least three inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter, records show. That Trevon Cole has several marijuana-related arrests in Houston, all misdemeanors.

So not only was the dead Trevon Cole not the guy they were looking for, but the guy they were looking for had only a misdemeanor marijuana record.  Some “hard-core drug dealer”.

But surely they must have had some evidence that the dead Trevon Cole was involved with drugs, right?

Undercover detectives had bought marijuana from Cole four times over five weeks, a total of 1.8 ounces for $840, according to the affidavit. Both Yant and the undercover detective positively identified Cole as the dealer, the document said.

But Yant, in the affidavit to Judge Diana Sullivan in support of a warrant to search Cole’s apartment, gave the impression that police thought they were going after a serious drug dealer. He noted that “almost all” people who sell drugs maintain “sophisticated and elaborate” records and that police expected to find those records, with guns and other drug paraphernalia.

Police found no such records. Nor did they find any weapons. They did seize an unspecified amount of marijuana and $702. Cole’s fiancee, Sequioa Pearce, said the cash was rent money. She recently had pawned her jewelry for $350, according to a copy of the EZ Pawn receipt.

So, based on four purchases of less than a half-ounce of marijuana totaling less than a thousand bucks and cops who don’t check middle names and who shoot at “furtive movements” made by large black men in their own homes, Trevon Cole’s pregnant fiancée will be raising his child without a father.