On May 27th of this year, members of a SWAT team shot 29-year-old Jason Westcott dead in his Tampa home, and the local task force later retrieved a whopping $2.00 worth of marijuana from his residence. Yes, you read that correctly. The raid resulted in the seizure of two dollars worth of pot.
Several months prior to the drug raid, Jason had called the Tampa Police Department after learning that someone who had partied regularly at his house was plotting to rob him. Of course, he didn’t have much worth robbing – a couple of old televisions and a handgun left to him by his brother were assumedly his most valued possessions. Still, fearing for his personal safety, he was advised by investigating officers, “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill”. So then why, when his home was raided a short time later and he responded to the unexpected intrusion by wielding a gun (as instructed), was Jason so thoughtlessly murdered?
It becomes increasingly clear as further research is done on the case that the Tampa Police Department is undeniably trying to cover up their palpable misstep to prevent public uproar. Initially, the police stated that they had been responding to a neighborhood tip. When the Times was unable to track down a single neighbor who corroborated this story, the police immediately corrected themselves – it had been an undercover officer who had confirmed large-scale marijuana distribution. Finally, it was revealed that it was in fact a confidential informant, who had purchased marijuana from an armed Westcott on four separate occasions, relaying the information.
In any case, the worst potential crime committed was the selling of around $200.00 worth of pot to an informant. Punishable by death? I think not. Unfortunately, Jason Westcott has become another casualty of the War on Drugs. Bogus drug raids will inevitably continue to take place across the United States, and relatively innocent men and women will continue to be shot, killed, and swept under the expansive rug of police force militarization.