SWAT raids over marijuana deadlier than the drug itself

Marijuana raids

It's an explosive new report highlighting the human cost of no-knock drug raids.  Two of the cases in the spotlight are from right here in the Tampa Bay area. Jason Wescott and Levonia Riggins.

"There's not a day that we don't think about him.  Think about him all the time," said Katrina Hunter, Riggins' aunt.

Hunter was in bed on August 30, 2016, when the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office smashed the door down to her home.  Deputies were looking for Riggins who had been under investigation for selling marijuana to undercover detectives.

"Waking up with a gun in your face, I don't know.  I just thank God we're still here. My life wasn't taken away about some weed. Get killed over marijuana," Hunter said.

He was first spotted by a deputy outside his bedroom window. Deputy Caleb Johnson saw Riggins move under his bedsheets, and told him to show his hands. Officials say Riggins jumped up and reached toward his waistband when Johnson fired a shot.

Riggins was a convicted felon and investigators say he was known to carry a gun.

No weapon was found.  Only a small amount of marijuana was discovered.

In November, Riggins' shooting was ruled justified. But it doesn't mean his family understands.

"Why ya'll have to come in here and just take his life over a blunt," Hunter said.

According to the data compiled by the New York Times, 20 of the deadly drug raids over the last six years involved marijuana. That's 20 more people killed than by the drug itself.

According to the DEA, marijuana has never been linked to an overdose.

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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