A Florida SWAT team deputy shot and killed an unarmed, 26-year-old man in a marijuana raid Tuesday morning. No weapons were found in the residence, but police are quick to say they did find 9 ounces of marijuana, a scale, a few pipes, plastic bags, and about $3,000 in cash — which makes shooting an unarmed man in the face and killing him a little bit better, right?
Derek Cruice, 26, is now the tenth person to die in domestic drug law enforcement operations thus far in 2015. This is decidedly not a good track record.
Sheriff Ben Johnson of Volusia County said the raid was part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, and that Deputy Todd Raible shot Cruice in the face as the SWAT team entered the house at 6:30 am after perceiving unarmed Cruice’s actions as a threat.
Matt Grady, 24, was one of the six adults in the residence during the raid (four men, two women). He said he was sleeping in a bedroom when he was awakened by banging on the door.
“There’s a couple seconds between opening the door, walking out, getting to my knee, and halfway out there’s gunfire,” Grady said. “I look back as the guy’s grabbing me, and my friend is dead or dying.”
Thomas Figueroa, who worked with Cruice at Monster Pizza in Deltona and had known the victim for 9 years, broke down crying when he arrived at the taped-off crime scene.
“He is not the kind of person that would do that (attack a deputy),” he said.
Steven Cochran, 24, who also lived in the house, said Cruice was not threatening or resisting at all.
“He had no weapons on him or in the house,” Cochran said. “Nobody was making any kind of resistance or keeping them from doing their job.”
In fact, Cochran said Cruice wasn’t even wearing a shirt.
“It’s kind of hard to conceal anything or hide anything when this is all you have on,” he said. “They entered the house and fired.”
Deputy Raible, the shooter, has been put on administrative leave, which is standard for all deputy-involved shootings.
It is truly tragic that living in a house allegedly involved in small-time marijuana dealing is enough to warrant a death sentence for a working, 26-year-old American. This senseless War on Drugs rages harder than ever as its proponents feel it drawing to an end, and trigger-happy, questionably trained police officers keep killing unarmed citizens (read: minorities) because of ‘perceived threats.’ It's enough to make you doubt your patriotism.
Our country’s law enforcement has become less trustworthy and respectable and more misguided than ever under the banner of the War on Drugs. State and federal governing powers continue to bury their heads in the sand in the face of indisputable scientific evidence and senseless deaths and arrests carried out under the guise of marijuana’s harmfulness, simply for the fear of losing votes. Our governing bodies need to wake up, admit wrongdoing, and stop this absolute failure of a ‘war’ before more innocents like Cruice are gunned down in the name of protecting the nation from harmless plants.