Friday, July 22, 2011

Cops threaten to kill paraplegic man’s dog in marijuana raid

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Jason “RoLLaJaY” Rivera, smoking medicinal marijuana in wheelchair
Jason Rivera

Most cases of dogs shot and killed by police are arguably the result of lack of training and/or bad judgment calls, but every now and then comes a story where it’s impossible to argue that the cops weren’t just being wanton assholes. Here’s an infuriating report of a paralyzed Oregon man, dependent on medicinal marijuana to reduce his crippling pain, being visited by the cops, who quickly turned less than amiable:

Jason Rivera, a paraplegic who suffers severe chronic pain, was detained by sheriffs presenting a warrant at his recording studio. The warrant was based on the tip of an anonymous informant, said Rivera, recounting the statements of deputies on the scene.

As sheriffs executed the warrant at the studio, one asked Rivera about searching his home. Rivera says the deputy threatened to kill his dog if he didn't cooperate. "We can do this the easy way and you can take us to your house to look around," Rivera recounts the deputy saying, "or we can detain you for six hours while we get a warrant and go to your house and shoot your dog."

What’s even worse is the vanishingly small chance that these thugs will even be disciplined in the slightest, much less fired.

As it happens, Rivera is actually a personal friend of the reporter, who makes no secret of his outrage:

In Rivera's case, however, we have officers who are obviously aware there is a dog at his home. They cannot justify using force against the animal when they have plenty of time to contact Animal Control and deal with the potential threat humanely. This threat is nothing more than emotional terrorism by our domestic police force to trample a disabled man's Fourth Amendment rights in a crusade over a plant.

(Full disclosure: Rivera is also known as "RoLLaJaY" and one of the closest friends of the NORML [National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws] SHOW LIVE podcast I produce. He donated to NORML thousands of dollars of used recording equipment that makes our show possible. He lives on a Social Security disability fixed income and requires a great amount of cannabis medicine just to live a pain-free life. He had very little usable medicine and about $80 cash when the raid occurred; coincidentally as he was listening to today's NORML SHOW LIVE. Life in a prison cell without cannabis would be devastating for RoLLaJaY... far more so than the lesser time some lowlife coward snitch just traded for my friend's health and freedom.)

How long must these miscarriages of justice go on before people finally demand reform? And similarly, how much longer before officials finally begin to realize their hysterical war on pain patients and Average Joes who just like to relax with a few tokes now and then is not only a monumental waste of time and resources, but has been fundamentally doomed from the start?

(via @ggreenwald)