Another Senseless Drug War Death

Stunning developments in the 2009 police shooting of Georgia pastor Jonathan Ayers

The Jonathan Ayers story was already outrageous enough. Last September, Ayers, a 28-year-old Baptist pastor from Lavonia, Georgia, was gunned down by a North Georgia narcotics task force in the parking lot of a gas station. Ayers had not been a suspect in any drug investigation. And even today, police acknowledge he was not using or trafficking in illicit drugs. Instead, Ayers had either been ministering to or having an affair with (depending on whom you believe) Johanna Kayla Jones Barrett, the actual target of the investigation.

Ayers is yet more collateral damage in the boundlessly tragic and wasteful drug war, as are his widowed wife Abigail and the child she was carrying at the time of his death. But that's really only the beginning of this mess. In a lawsuit filed last week, Abigail Ayers makes some astonishing new allegations about the competence of the police officers who killed her husband, the supervisors who hired them, and the law enforcement agencies and the grand jury that investigated Ayers' death. Most damning: The police officer who killed Ayers wasn't even authorized to be carrying a gun or a badge.

Hours before Ayers was killed, police say Johanna Barrett sold undercover officer Chance Oxner $50 worth of crack cocaine. According to an interview Barrett gave to the North Georgian newspaper shortly after Ayers' death, the pastor had seen her walking near a gas station on her way back to an extended-stay motel where she was living with her boyfriend. Ayers, who had known Barrett for a number of years, offered her a ride back to the motel and gave her the money in his pocket, $23, to help pay her rent.

The police were trailing Barrett at the time. But instead of apprehending her at the motel, they instead followed Ayers, the stranger they'd just seen give her a ride and hand her some cash.

Ayers then pulled into a nearby gas station to withdraw money from an ATM. Shortly after he got back into his car, a black Escalade tore into the parking lot. Three officers, all undercover, got out of the vehicle and pointed their guns at Ayers. The pastor, understandably, attempted to escape. As he pulled out of the station, Ayers grazed Officer Oxner with his car. Officer Billy Shane Harrison then opened fire, shooting Ayers in the stomach. (You can watch surveillance video of the altercation here.) Ayers continued to drive, fleeing the parking lot for about a thousand yards before eventually crashing his car. He died at the hospital.

Ayers’ last words to his family and medical staff were that he thought he was being robbed. The police found no illicit drugs in his car, and there was no trace of any illegal substance in his body.

If the story ended there, it would merely be enough to boil your blood. These officers jumped from an SUV waving their guns commando-style over a possible $50 drug transaction. Worse, the man they pounced upon wasn't the target of their investigation.

The police claimed they announced themselves, but it isn't difficult to see how Ayers—or anyone else—might have been confused in the commotion. It was a hot, late summer Georgia afternoon. Ayers likely had his windows up and his air conditioning on. The officers were undercover, dressed in shabby clothes and ski-mask caps. The badges they had hanging from their necks, seen in this photo, were far from conspicuous.

Let’s say that you (which would include 99 percent of the people reading this) aren't a drug dealer, or a mobster, or some other sort of career criminal. You've just returned to your car after getting cash from an ATM. An unmarked Escalade pulls up and three men jump out in masks and guns. Confusion and self-preservation is not only understandable, it ought to be predictable, even expected.

This would have been a grossly disproportionate way for these cops to have approached Barrett, their actual suspect, much less a guy they sought to question only about the 10 minutes he'd just spent in the car with her.

The Stephens County, Georgia Sheriff's Department initially said Ayers was a drug suspect, but later had to retract. In her September interview with the North Georgian, Barrett told the paper that Ayers had been trying to help kick her drug habit, but later, while facing charges related to both the Ayers case and another incident, she told investigators that Ayers had in previous years paid her for sex. This testimony persuaded the grand jury not to indict the officers who killed Ayers. The pastor may have fled the police, the grand jury concluded, because he feared his reputation would be ruined if his relationship with Barrett were exposed.

District Attorney Brian Rickman praised the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for going to "very extraordinary lengths" to insure the investigation into the shooting was fair. But Abigail Ayers' civil suit (PDF) calls that assessment into question. The complaint alleges that Officer Harrison, the cop who shot Ayers, wasn't even authorized to arrest him. On the day Ayers was killed, Harrison had yet to take a series of firearms training classes required for his certification as a police officer. More astonishing, Harrison apparently had no training at all in the use of lethal force.

These allegations have since been confirmed by local TV station WSBTV and, after the fact, by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Despite the fact that Harrison had killed a man suspected of no crime months earlier without having undergone lethal-force training and certification, the officer was still carrying his badge and gun up until the time of the WSBTV report. Once the publicity hit, Harrison was suspended. Abigail Ayers' civil suit also alleges prior disciplinary problems with both officers Oxner and Harrison, including alleged drug use.

The wasteful use of public resources to pursue a petty drug offender and the aggressive and short-sighted apprehension of Jonathan Ayers that led to his death are bad enough. That a police officer untrained in the use of lethal force and unqualified to be holding a badge and gun was put on a narcotics task force, and then placed in a position where he was able to shoot and kill a non-suspect is worse. But the kicker has to be that the subsequent police-led investigations of this high-profile case failed to turn up such a critical piece of information. It ought to cast more doubt on the already dubious notion that police shootings should only be investigated by other police officers.

At the heart of this outrage, though, once again, is our increasingly demented, hysterical, all-too-literal drug war. Until we're ready to dispense with the notion that gun-toting cops in ski masks going commando at a public gas station is an appropriate response to an alleged $50 drug transaction, we're going to see a lot more Jonathan Ayerses.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Gawdammit, Radley!! I go to bed pissed, I wake up pissed...and I've got maybe 25-30 friends that are LEO/ X-LEO!

  • ||

    Anybody who tries to escape from armed attackers who may or may not be police deserves to get gunned down. Let God sort them out. You have to break a few eggs, you know.

  • ||

    True. And this is quite the delicious omelet, I have to say.

  • ||

    Don't forget the bacon and sausage with that omelet.

    And chorizo to be culturally sensitive.

  • ||

    Do the police have the power to be judge and jury, idiots only give this power to them...

  • PabloKoh||

    so·ci·o·path [soh-see-uh-path]:
    a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

  • carbon||

    dwcarkuff, you are a idiot in sooooo many ways. he deserved it? cause he tried to escape people in masks with guns? someones dead because of dumbass police and you say that he deserved it? you sir are an ignorant ass who should have his rights to the internet stripped so we don't have to read your stupid uneducated opinions. STFU!

    P.S.
    And anyone else who thinks that this death is justified is so insanely stupid that it defies description.

    P.P.S.
    And drugs are already legal geniuses, but just the ones the drug companies make, because politians are in their back pockets and the drug companies don't want any competition from any drugs they can't control (illegal ones).

  • ||

    "deserves" to be gunned down?????????
    You are not the smartest bunny on the farm.........

  • right||

    so what would you have done differently?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The fact that Harrison still had not completed his training this long after the incident is minor compared to the actual killing of an innocent man, but what is major that brazen attitude will probably rile people back up on the notion of police shooting a preacher for no good reason.

    It's unfortunate that the Georgia taxpayer will have to pay out huge to the widow for any possibility of things to actually change there.

  • Zeb||

    Well, maybe the Georgia taxpayer will start giving a fuck about the horrible things done in their name and vote/make noise accordingly.

  • ||

    Bwahaahahaaaa!

    Sorry.

  • JohnD||

    If you associate with known criminals and act like one (attempted escape) and then injure a cop in the process, what the hell do you expect?

    You Reason morons make me want to puke. All you give a shit about is legalizing drugs. No wonder you're never taken seriously.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Now that's some good parody.

  • ||

    ...what the hell do you expect?

    um, due process?

  • ||

    Not if you are with a criminal and injure a cop.

  • Sean||

    What you meant to say "WERE recently with a toubled person, and were fleeing armed strangers".

  • mkunert||

    Ah.. so Constitutional rights only apply to people who Cops think aren't criminals.

    You're so smart!

  • ||

    I'd say about 10% of stories on Reason relate to the drug war, at an absolute maximum. But yeah, obviously it's all they really give a shit about.

  • ||

    In fairness they are the posts with the most angry people- then again posts on say Healthcare generally don't end with the state gunning people down.

  • ||

    ...Yet!!

  • Leif||

    Don't give Palin ideas! :-)

  • ||

    True, if you are with a known criminal and attempt to escape you should expect the police to attack you.

  • WTF||

    I guess you miss the part where he said - as he was dying from an unjustified and illegally-inflicted bullet wound from a supposed cop - that he thought he was being robbed.

    And "known criminal" - a two-bit prostitute that they knew had dealt with $50 worth of drugs? So that means the first thing you do when someone else "associates" with her is to shoot him dead?

  • ||

    "So that means the first thing you do when someone else "associates" with her is to shoot him dead?"

    That's the efficient was to enforce order. Just shoot all suspected criminals and anyone who associates with them at any time for any reason.

  • EST||

    A good friend who's brother is a cop suffering from the pain of taking a guy's life several years ago, stated that many of the young officers on the force speak about how their itching to take some one down via gunfire. These freaking idiots should never be allowed to interact with John Q Public. My guess is that many cops have the same desire.

  • carbon||

    "kill everyone dubbed a criminal"? that is the dumbest thing ever typed on the internet! if that were the case, people in authority would just dub anyone a they didn't like a "criminal" and execute them. thus sending the free world back a few centuries or so.

    So, i'm gonna lable you a criminal (using my god given authority as sheriff of nottingham!) and execute you in front of the whole town while your family begs for you life, and then execute your entire family/friends because they associated with a known "criminal" and are therefore "criminals" themselves. then i would track down all their distant family/friends and so on and so on.

    P.S.
    All you right wing facist douchebags listen up!

    Go read a ****ing book you rednecks!


    (btw, i am redneck, albeit an educated-not-completely-batshit-crazy-like-the-rest-of-you one.

  • Jim||

    Lets use some logic here. Even if those guys weren't cops, lets say they were burglars. You don't risk your life to save your stuff, that is stupid. Give them your money, your car, whatever, who cares? Its just stuff you can get more of it. You can't get your life back.

    Him trying to run was dumb dumb dumb.
    He would be alive today if he would have stayed calm, no one would have killed him in a public gas station in broad daylight. The reason he was shot was because he used his car as a weapon to escape.
    Also, if you listen to the witnesses they all seem to show that Jonathan was having an affair with the drug addict and that he was afraid it would be exposed. The witnesses also observed that the officers acted with the proper amount of force from what they perceived to be a threat.

    Jonathan was apparently "ministering" to this lady, (who they knew when they were in high school), oops you involve yourself with criminals and this is sometimes the result. Sad.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If only all criminals twirled their mustaches and all cops wore badges.

  • asdf||

    Killing someone over $50, go fuck yourself

  • ||

    ""Killing someone over $50, go fuck yourself"""

    Can't disagree. But I find killing someone because you still believe in enforcing a failed policy is worst than killing someone for $50.

  • ||

    If you kill someone for $50, you at least got something in return.

  • ||

    How do you get the metal taste off your tongue from all that badge licking, Thomas?

  • ||

    You're presuming he WANTS to get the metal taste off his tongue.

  • Charlie O||

    You're a fucking moron and deserve the same fate. Nuff said.

  • Phelps||

    If you associate with known criminals

    You mean, like, Jesus? Maybe we should start crucifying these uppity pastors that want to get people to stop taking drugs without throwing them in jail, like the Romans would have.

  • ||

    "You mean, like, Jesus?"

    Didn't he later 'hurt a cop', too...or maybe that was just some money changer.

  • robc||

    Peter cut off a "cop"'s ear, but Jesus healed it.

  • ||

    And called out Peter on it for being trigger-happy, swords-and-sandals version.

  • Shannon Love||

    All the uber-conservative, painfully white, evangelical ministers of my childhood routinely associated with criminals. Redeeming those shunned by society it part of their job description. My favorite child hood pastor was beaten by parole he took in and tried to help.

    Any clergy who doesn't have some contact with the criminal and marginal elements of society is morally suspect and most likely a poser. (This is especially true if the minister's church is on the wrong side of the tracks or in a small time.) I say all this as an atheist.

    So, we have a minister doing what his calling requires on the bad side of town, who gives his cash to a dysfunctional person and then stops at the ATM to withdraw cash. He then sees three rough dressed armed men piling out of an Escalade (the drug dealers car of choice.) They have some bling bouncing around their chest but he can't see what and he can't hear them. Most importantly,since he wasn't doing anything wrong, why would the idea that his attackers were police even cross his mind?

    Frankly, if you would have just cravenly surrendered to criminal attackers in such a situation, well, you're just a pussy.

    These cops are lucky I was not in that circumstance because my instinct is to attack criminals. Those incompetents might not have had weapons training but I certainly do and I hit what I shoot at. I wouldn't have been the only one going home in a box and if any of the cops survived they beg to just sued and imprisoned after my spouse got through with them.

    The basic problem here is that cops try to blend in with criminals so they start to look and act like criminals. When they mistakenly target a law abiding citizen, that citizen believes them to be criminals and acts accordingly.

    Accidents happen but law enforcement institutions have the responsibility to plan for misidentification and to take into account how their actions look to law abiding citizen they surprise. More importantly, when despite their honest best efforts, they fail and an innocent dies they have to cowboy up and accept responsibility.

    None of that happened in this case. The individual officers as well as the institutions failed before and after the event.

  • ||

    Very well put.

  • ||

    Damned right about associating with known criminals. I mean, you have to ask yourself WWJD?

  • jacob||

    Give me the cause for action explaining why the police approached this man with guns drawn? He associated with a criminal?

  • ||

    and what should a pastor do but associate with known criminals. Does it make sense for a pastor to only associate with the pure even if he could find them!

  • ||

    Except he wasn't trying to "escape" in the sense you mean: evade capture after committing a crime. He was trying to avoid being mugged or murdered.
    At least, that's what a non-fascist might conclude.

  • ||

    what the hell would you do john d if that happen to you 3 men in a car with gunS your chickhead ass would have propbley took of in your car too

    I DONT THINK THAT PASTOR TRIED TO HURT THE STUPIT PIG HE WAS JUST SCARED OUT OF HIS MIND TRYING TO GET AWAY THEY WERE UNDERCOVER HOW WAS HE TO KNOW THEY WERE COPS

    IT FAGS LIKE YOU WHO IF I EVER MET I WOULD BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOU

    YES AND ALL I CARE ABOUT IS LEGALIZING DRUGS AND FUCKING THE WOMAN OF YOUR FAMILY HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH

  • ||

    Oh calm down John. I don't think genuine law abidin citizens read this left wing rag anyway

    BTW did you put any more ice in the cooler last night?

    I know you would hate to go fishin with two warm cases of beer.

  • Suki||

    good morning reason

  • ||

    We need to create a special investigative unit to investigate cops that gets paid based on how many cops they manage to get jailed in a given period. I can't think of any other way to deal with this kind of crap.

  • Kyle Jordan Prime||

    Short of some type of vigilante squad that only moves against Law Enforcement, I'm not sure there's much that can be done. And even this "solution" is incredibly poor and would not work.

    If enough people were to become genuinely outraged and disgusted we might have a glimmer of hope. Focus the energy towards actually holding LEOs (and Politicians) accountable for their crimes by tossing their sorry asses in prison.

    I don't think this will happen though. We're screwed until the "empire" falls if you will. And even then, that will either never happen, evolve in to a worse situation than we're in currently, or just be some other type of mediocre system that kills freedom.

    Have a nice day.

  • Kyle Jordan Prime||

    BTW, the poor solution I refer to is my vigilante idea, not your idea RC.

  • $||

    No - the citizen's arrest squad is the only thing that will clean that house. Ironically, the current Administration has no interest in civil rights.

  • Bunky||

    The big problem is that somehow long ago, Police Forces were given autonomy -- especially when it comes to discipline, instead of continuing to be overseen by the town/county/state legislature that elected its members.

    Cops' salaries are paid with public taxes, and I for one would like to return control of hiring and firing to local government. When a Governor or Mayor's own job hangs in the balance come election time, you can bet that thug cops will get the boot when the public calls for it.

  • ||

    If I could have any job in the world it would be US Attorney General. First thing, I would give a speech to one of the national law enforcement associations and tell them straight up that anytime anywhere in this country when a cop kills an innocent person, some cop is going to be indicted in federal court. I would spend four years hounding those motherfuckers. Anytime something like this happened, the FBI would so all over them, they would wish they had never been born.

  • ||

    I think if I was in a medical related LEO position, it would be psychiatrist for the LEO's themselves. I never liked the psych rotation personally, but I have to admit studying abnormal psychiatry was fascinating. I would liked liked to be able to identify the problem LEO's and discharge them from the force.

    I haven't looked at any statistics lately but I wonder if periodic "Holidays" from the force sans badge,gun and authori-tay for a few months, kinda like teachers, might slow that corruption.

  • robc||

    Along with that, and repeating and idea I have stated before, there needs to be a psych profile as part of the admission to the police academy and any scoring above average (across all people, not those trying to join the police academy) on "craving of power" score are immediately excluded.

  • ||

    Read that as "...are immediately executed."

    I like it better my way.

  • robc||

    Tomato, Tomahto.

  • ||

    Hate to tell you, robc, but there already is a psych profile for police recruits. Books have been written on how to beat them.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The trouble is, sociopaths are very skilled at appearing normal. And sociopaths are filling the ranks of LEOs in ever increasing numbers.

  • ||

    What? You want to hamstring America's heroes? You know it's that thin blue line between and chaos - like innocent people getting killed.

  • ||

    us and chaos, I mean.

  • ||

    You mean like the "innocent" pastor at the heart of this story. Bet he's glad the police were holding "that thin blue line." Or how about Corey Mayes?

    You know for about half of this country's history we did not have a civilian police force. People policed their own. I am beginning to wonder if we weren't better off.

  • ||

    Given a choice between having a cop and a crack house next door, I'd take the crack house. At least you know what to expect from the crackheads.

  • Zeb||

    You've got my vote. If the Fed is to be involved in local affairs, this is exactly where they should be involved.

  • Phelps||

    If you did that, they would "find" 50 lbs of cocaine in your trunk on the way out of the speech.

  • ||

    But you know you would be fired for making the President look weak on crime, so it would be short lived.

  • Patrick||

    Sadly true, because the aforementioned stance is actually quite tough on crime- a kind of crime that currently goes unpunished.

  • ||

    Agreed R C.

    But even with civilian oversight boards, it seems police don't seem (and I do believe this endemic to the profession) to be able to self regulate effectively.

    It just seems to me, and this not an indictment on all LEO's, that the rush of power corrupts absolutely over a period of time. Yes, the job is dangerous and stressful, with most LEO's seeing society at it's Oscar winning worst. I daresay most view LEO's as traffic revenue generators with a notorious reputation of "letting off" colleagues, family and friends.

    However, when most of society sees a black and white behind their car and feels fear (is he going to pull me over?) versus (I feel protected and safe!), something is wrong overall.

  • Highway||

    I disagree, RC. Take them off of any commission at all. Having the negative incentive to jail cops will just work the same way the perverse incentives we have now. Every investigation would be tainted by the 'They just want to get more money by picking on cops' accusation.

    Also, I don't even know how to staff such a review board. Do you pick at random? Do you hold elections, where you end up with the FOP lobbying to fill the board with cats paws and shills? Do you have appointments? Any political process will get twisted beyond hope, we all know that. And yet, if you go with random citizens, you end up with the random quality that goes along with that.

    Something like this almost needs a full public referendum every single time.

  • ||

    There are no "right people in charge." We're fucked.

  • ||

    Aaaaaaannnnddddd, we're back to the origins of libertarianism.

  • asdf||

    Does anyone think anything besides "oh shit there's a cop, fuck" when they see one? Protect and serve...

  • Brian E||

    Can't say as I've ever thought that. Then again I'm the only one I know who has honestly never been pulled over, let alone ticketed. And even if I was I wouldn't hold it against the LEO; that's just immaturity. Maybe if more people would learn to fucking drive they could avoid the whole confrontation in the first place.

  • rrr||

    Someday will all grow up and be as self-righteous as you but I guess today isn't that day.

  • chaka||

    you're an idiot. try driving I-10 or I-8 where you are forced to stop at border patrol checkpoints, answer questions about your citizenship and if your lucky, they'll run the dog around your car while some fuckronaut asks you where your going and where you came from.

  • ||

    "Yes, the job is dangerous and stressful..."

    Yes I'll give you that it can be mildly dangerous. But that stressful?

    I'd like to see one of these "heroes" deal with multiple screaming customers in the service industry.

    Or provide phone tech support in 10 hours shifts. I left that job every night stinking of stale sweat and full of hate. Yet I didn't beat my girl friend or get into a fight, etc. Oh, and if you weren't unfailingly polite you get fired.

    IANAP but I think these guys and their co-workers continuously reinforce a reality distortion field in which they're under siege and any trip in the squad car could be their last.

    Oh I left those jobs because I thought the stress wasn't worth it. They could easily do the same.

  • Joe||

    It's tough to find another job where you can make 70K+ a year with a high school diploma.

  • Bunky||

    And that's another massive problem with modern law enforcement -- there is absolutely no incentive to hire people of quality, because those who are well educated would rather make their marks in the private sector rather than put their smarts to work as a cop.

    Being a cop these days is the best way for a mediocre, second-string athlete bully to get well paid to continue living the glory days of high school.

  • Untermensch||

    Just out of curiosity, how did the three of your find and comment on this starting almost five hours before it appeared publicly on the site? Do you have some secret connections at Reason?

  • Anonymous Backstabber||

    Move along. Nothing to see here.

  • ||

    And no pictures.

  • Reason Truth Movement||

    I just want the freedom to ask questions... what are they afraid of?

  • ||

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation. By its very nature prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model - the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous, ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved.

    Many of us have now finally wised up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation, which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco --two of our most dangerous mood altering substances. But for those of you whose ignorant minds traverse a fantasy plane of existence, you will no doubt remain sorely upset with any type of solution that does not seem to lead to the absurd and unattainable utopia of a drug free society. There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody 'halfway bright' and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem; it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you still support the kool aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.

    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation!

  • Untermensch||

    Malcolm, I agree with your sentiment, but if you hope to convince anyone, it helps not to deride them as half-wits. Since you're unlikely to find those who disagree with you here, who are you writing this for? But, even if you were to transplant your argument to a forum where people might need convincing, your style here really isn't an effective persuasive technique.

  • ||

    As you say, in this venue, Mr. Kyle is 'preaching to the choir'. I passed the article out to people whom I touch. I encouraged them to read Mr. Kyle's comment. Mr. Kyle writes well and deserves a larger audience.

  • ed||

    "regulation & taxation...sensible regulation...proper regulation...historically confirmed solution..."

    That's the ticket, malcolm: an even heavier government hand.

  • ||

    Come on now, even the most suppressive regulatory regime is less "heavy-handed" than the use of lethal force and mass incarceration to try and prohibit consumption of chemicals.

  • Zeb||

    This.

  • ||

    The pen is mightier than the sword, but it sure does weigh a lot less.

  • ||

    If you knew someone addicted you would know why we need to ban and eliminate drugs. I think if we just finally get tougth once and for all we can finally create a drug free society. Freedom is drug free. Straight edge is the only way to go, those who are not edge need to be beaten straight.

  • ||

    Are you trolling?

    I do know "someone addicted". And we can ban them all we want, but we'll never come anywhere close to eliminating drugs. It simply will not happen.

    We've been waging this war for decades, and now drugs are cheaper, more widely available, and more potent than ever.

    (You're trolling right? Please tell me you're trolling.)

  • ||

    Are we not tough enough in prison, Thomas? Because they get drugs in there, too. Would you like our society to finally be run like one big giant prison, only tougher, so we can finally have a "drug-free society"? I'm pretty sure I don't want the same thing you want.

  • asdf||

    Good idea, lets execute anyone that's ever been exposed to drugs, ever.

  • ||

    To my mind, an addict will, by definition, seek and obtain drugs regardless of whether they are legal.

    The very last people that a prohibition will "protect" from themselves are the addicts.

    So, trotting out addiction as a reason for prohibition falls a little short of the mark.

  • Charlie O||

    Thomas, see comment. Still holds true.

  • ||

    Thomas, if you are an addict and went "straight edge", kudos to you. The disease of addiction is difficult to overcome and manage.

    However, your attitude of "I love you to death" and "get tough" doesn't cut the mustard. Prohibition doesn't work and neither does totalitarian "I will beat you into submission because I'm right" won't earn you much sympathy.

    Just because someone uses drugs recreational manner does not equate to addiction. Even dependence is not addiction. Less than 2% of our population fits the diagnosis of drug or alcohol addicted.

  • Common Sense||

    Right, and this is an important point:

    drug use != drug abuse

  • Phelps||

    If you knew an alcoholic you would know why we need to ban and eliminate alcohol. I think if we just finally get tough once and for all we can finally create an alcohol free society. Freedom is alcohol free. Straight edge is the only way to go, those who are not edge need to be beaten straight.

  • ||

    +1

  • bob||

    Thomas, please look up "retard" in the dictionary

  • ||

    Dude, I'm sorry but unless you're arguing for a Chinese "execute all addicts" approach you're not going to substantially alter behavior with enforcement, maybe with treatment but force doesn't work unless its crazy insane force.

  • SkepticalTexan||

    What are you smoking, Tommy?

  • ||

    I guess you're joking, but if you're not - several hundred billion dollars and a few million people with their lives completely ruined and permanently denied significant basic rights is not tough enough???

  • Bradley||

    You morons got taken in by a weak troll

  • Bunky||

    Obvious Troll is Obvious.

  • ||

    haha get tough on the peole who use drugs all the straight edge people are punks weell the majority are OVER THE EDGE IS THE OLNY WAY TO GO

    THOMAS SUCK THE HELL OUT PIGS ASS'S

  • ||

    You can never completely eliminate abuse of drugs. Humans have used drugs since we've been human. Even animals can become drug addicts. Just watch a bunch of cats when they're given catnip. Would you ban possession of glue or hairspray? People sniff this to get high. What about exterminating frogs so teenagers won't lick them. There are hallucagenic mushrooms growing beside the highway in my town. You can't stop it.

  • ||

    "What's that? You're not already pissed off more than God about the health insurance circle jerk? Here ya go, BAM! another one right in the nuts"

    Thanks Balko.

  • Kyle Jordan Prime||

    Exactly.

  • Arm chair Generals ||

    ...endless jack-off circle continues

  • Warty||

    Wait, the guy was white? That's the only part of this story that's surprising. Try to count how many levels that's wrong on.

  • Xeones||

    Warty: Thirty seven.

  • Warty||

    "I'm not old!"

  • ||

    "Thirty-seven?! Try not to suck any dicks on the way to the parking lot!"

  • mr simple||

    This testimony persuaded the grand jury not to indict the officers who killed Ayers. The pastor may have fled the police, the grand jury concluded, because he feared his reputation would be ruined if his relationship with Barrett were exposed.

    How the fuck does that mean it was okay for the cops to shoot him? On what world does the possibility that someone had sex with a prostitute, knowingly fled police, or was worried about his reputation warrant death?

  • peasant||

    Any excuse will do to avoid antagonizing the knighthood.

  • tarran||

    Because the moment you look like someone who 'might' break the law, you become a untermensch, and our neighbors have been trained well at government schools and by government licensed media to turn a blind eye to untermenschen getting shot or being beaten to death.

  • ||

    That dropped my jaw too. So the rule is, the cops can only shoot you if they have a really good reason, like if they think you're paying a prostitute for sex.

  • ||

    So what, you're saying people should be allowed to live if they take part in a consensual sexual transaction? Not in my back yard.

    Wacky libertarians and your "civil rights".

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    Hey, no one is advocating that we allow strangers to fuck in your yard.

  • ||

    What if he didn't pay for the service?

  • ||

    If you are caught in commission of a crime you can be attacked. Everyone should avoid drugs, alcohol, caffeine, sex and eating meat or be beaten.

  • ||

    Bad troll. Went too far.

  • ||

    I am having a hooker, a steak, a martini and a cigar for lunch right now. Come and get me asshole. I got just the medicine to make you right. It starts with AR and ends with 15.

  • ||

    "It starts with AR and ends with 15."

    Don't forget to load it this time.

  • ||

    It's always loaded. It's not much good if it's not.

  • ||

    I BEAT THE HELL OUT OF BIBLE THUMPER ALL THE TIME BY THE WAY IM GETTING HEAD WHILE DRINKING COFFEE WITH AMURITTOE AND A LITTLE SHROOM JUCIE WHILE EATEING STEAK COME GET YOU MIGHT NEEED TO TO TRY SOME

  • Rich||

    The badges they had hanging from their necks, seen in this photo, were far from conspicuous.

    Agree. They should take undercover badge display lessons from this guy.

  • Anonymous Backstabber||

    It's not just inconspicuous, it is hard to imagine that it was not intentionally camouflaged. "On display" in name only.

  • Spoonman.||

    Fuck the police.

  • JohnD||

    You could try, but they will fuck you back. And you probably deserve it. Moron.

  • ||

    You've played this man-on-cop fucking scenario out in your head more than once, haven't you?

  • ||

    Methinks a bit than just in his head Rhayader.

    Call it a hunch.

  • ||

    I'm uutraged.

  • VikingMoose||

    it really is uutrageous.

    (did radley become canadian?)

  • ||

    J sub D is uutraged as well.

  • ||

    Too much outrage to pen a decent comment.

    Fuck that hillbilly cop who shot Reverend Ayers.

    Fuck the police department that put an untrained ignorant buffooon like that on the street with a fucking gun.

    Fuck the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that after an investigaytion of "very extraordinary lengths" didn't discover that the guy who gunned down the pastor was unqualified to even carry a weapon.

    Fuck the dumbshit DA who praised the GBI for the investigation.

    Fuck the grand jury members who'd believe testimony that was likely coerced by the same cops who were responsible for this.

    Lastly fuck every goddam drug war supporter who tacitly or openly supports actions like this. I'm looking at you Barack Obama.

  • VikingMoose||

    J sub. neatly wraps it up.

    with plenty of uutrage.

    (and reason number horizontal 8 why the Wod is senseless.)

  • ||

    "Officer Billy Shane Harrison "

    Guilty!

  • ||

    Can we euthanize everyone named Shane? I've never met one who wasn't an illiterate redneck.

    And this is coming from a literate redneck.

  • ||

    Cain't spell? Din'tcha mean "literal", not "literate"..?? (BFG)

  • Carl Bussjager||

    Sheesh, Georgia has gone 'way downhill. Way back when, I could touch a firearm on duty until the Academy firearms qualification course, and didn't get my badge or even a standard uniform, until after graduation and verification of POST certification.

    Mrs. Ayres is about to become very wealthy.

  • Carl Bussjaeger||

    Darn it: "couldn't touch"

  • jk||

    Didn't you read the article? The murder shooting of Mrs. Ayers' husband was found to be justified.

    She won't see one red cent.

  • ||

    That's still for the jury in her civil trial to decide, jk.

    I would think she can put on a very sympathetic case. She was pregnant when her pastor husband was gunned down after ministering to the least among us. The cop who gunned her husband down was untrained and shouldn't have been on the street at all. The other cops covered up for him and tried to smear her sainted husband as a john.

    I'd say she has an excellent chance of a very substantial recovery.

  • jk||

    Who will pay?
    The murderer cop or the taxpayers?

  • ||

    Hint: Hide your wallet.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    And people wonder why anyone would be skeptical about the government taking over a sixth of the economy...

  • SkepticalTexan||

    Don't worry ... the IRS is better trained and much more compassionate than GA cops.

  • ||

    Sending armed thugs to a California car wash for four cents in unpaid taxes?

    You need to look up "better trained" and "more compassionate" because I don't believe those words mean what you think they mean.

  • ||

    'course not - 'cause he changes the meaning when his tongue is in his cheek!!! (didt see dat didja?)

  • jk||

    Why would someone seek out a job where they get paid to beat people with a club and shoot people with a gun unless they want to get paid to beat people with a club and shoot people with a gun?

  • ||

    (Or vice versa?????)

  • ||

    Just wanting to be a cop, should disqualify most immediately. Right out of high school, our police force should be appointed(drafted) by a jury of their peers. School records should be used to find possible candidates. Most cops today are not the ones we would have chosen......public service should be manditory for all Americans and this should be a high paid service job.....by appointment only.

  • ||

    Good article

  • ||

    I live not far from where this episode occurred - and it's pretty representative of the conduct of LE in the area. A few months before, a nearby officer beat an unarmed man guilty of no crime so badly in his mother's front yard - an eye was ripped from it's socket. Also 'no wrongdoing' on part of officer ruled. Having worked around police, including briefly in the Criminal Justice educational field - far too many of these guys are in worse mental shape than the 'suspects' they go after. SWAT teams over traffic tickets do not a civilized society make...

  • Shannon Love||

    SWAT teams over traffic tickets do not a civilized society make...

    Hah, found my new T-Shirt!

  • ||

    But- if we hold our officers accountable to the law, chaos will ensue. And anarchy.

    WTF?

  • West Coaster||

    Excellent job of ignoring the trolls, BTW!

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Officer Harrison is guilty of murder and needs to be executed. But he'll probably just get a raise instead.

  • Mikey||

    Eh, I don't support the death penalty even for shitstains like this one. A lifetime stint in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison should do him just fine.

  • Capt Obvious||

    Where are all the cop shills?

    Or, at the least, Tulpa?

    I want someone here defending the GBI.

  • ||

  • WTF||

    Look up. We've got at least one up there.

  • TJ||

    Radley -- another great article.

  • ||

    Great. I've barely gotten going today and already I'm angry as hell.

    This kind of story makes me want to cry. It's so blindingly stupid, and scary, yet, I'm not sure there's anything we can do so long as most Americans blindly accept this crap.

  • ||

    I have said repeatedly:

    If the people who killed Kathryn Johnston are not on death row, nobody in this country should be on death row. Now, we can add the people who killed Jonathan Ayers.

  • ||

    Did anyone else note that the cop who was hit by the car had a bruise under his left armpit, and a BULLET FRAGMENT in his left arm? And that hillbilly non-cop (not certified)Harrison said: "That's when I shot twice. The first shot was fired quick. Second shot was aimed."

    Thank goodness for the thin blue line that can't even manage not to shoot each other while killing innocent people.

  • ||

    This is very sad and indeed an outrage. Why is there so little "common sense" being used by the police. The lack of proper training is abominable and going after minor "users" of drugs is a total waste of time.

    Incompetence, negligence and poor training. More than one person should be reprimanded, and perhaps dismissed. If any of these "police officers" had drug offenses themselves, why are they still on the police force?

  • Dude||

    It's bad enough they had prior drug offenses and were on the police force.

    But even worse, they were on the damn narcotics unit.

  • ||

    Background checks are for suspects and suckas!

  • jacob||

    +1

  • ||

    More than one person should be reprimanded, and perhaps dismissed.

    Fuck that. They should be jailed.

  • ||

    PMITA prison. Where they are pounded in the ass every night.

    You're my prison bitch
    My prison bitch
    You're not like other men
    I'm glad we share a prison cell
    When lights go out at ten
    I can't escape the way I feel
    Now that will be a crime
    As long as I am doing you
    I don't mind doing time...

  • bob||

    Where the fuck is the DOJ and FBI? What the fuck?
    FUCK FUCK FUCK

  • ||

    Busy with their execution of the WoSD somewhere else?

  • ||

    Should I understand this article to say that Barrett was offered reduced charges by the DA in return for changing her testimony to torpedo the charges against the cops? That's so outrageous and corrupt I don't know where to begin.

  • ||

    Here's the best part:

    The pastor was shot because by being with her, a woman of seriously ill repute, he was obviously also a total criminal scumbag.

    BUT, let's all listen to her testimony with rapt attention, because she's such a woman of virtue.

    Huh?!

  • crenata||

    Ayers' epithaph
    "No good deed shall go unpunished."
    What a bitch.

  • wayne||

    How about a civil rights violation charge against the pseudo-cop, like the charge the feds laid on the Rodney King assaulters?

  • ||

    Simple: he's white, so it's not a civil rights violation.

    Duh.

  • Brian||

    Man this is crazy...i know someone who was pulled over to the side of a highway in Maryland to check his map and a car pulled over in front of him and guys got out with masks and guns.

    How the hell are you supposed to tell the difference? Why couldnt they just use a normal police car and wear their uniforms?

    And why do even undercover cops need to be wearing ski-masks???

  • ||

    Why do we need undercover cops?

  • Brian||

    But leaving that aside, it seems to me that by wearing ski masks, the cops were going out of their way to appear as robbers? Why would they do that?

  • ||

    they used to be called "secret" police.

    I would actually be interested in knowing if the rationale for masked police, retaliation from criminals, has EVER happened to an off duty police officer.

  • ||

    Actually, "secret police" are something a bit different. Still, you're absolutely right to question why the cops were masked. I see absolutely no justification for it.

  • ||

    It's even worse when they get to appear as witnesses in court with their faces covered.

    What does that say about your right to face your accusers?

  • ||

    Darn. I saved his facebook page the second they released his name. It was a disturbing picture, but now the image file won't open. I assume it has something to do with saving images from facebook. Anyone know?

  • ||

    Specifically, he was holding a big gun and looking angry.

  • ||

    We don't.

    Far as I'm concerned, every cop's uniform should be an orange jumpsuit with badge number stenciled in black large enough to be visible from 100 feet away.

  • Shannon Love||

    Confucius famously said that the first step to good government was honestly naming things. I can't help but think that we could gain some traction on this issue if we stopped adopting the oppositions nomenclature.

    The term "War on Drugs" fails the confucian test because you can't wage war on inanimate objects. The "War on Drugs" is really a War on Drug Users and we all should be honest about what we are doing.

    When we begin to talk about the issue in terms of attacking, imprisoning and killing people in order to save them from their own choices, then we have an entirely different debate. When we realize we have enormous collateral deaths and suffering while attacking these numbnuts to save them from themselves, the dangers become more obvious.

    It's a War on Drug Users. Spread the word.

  • ||

    "An unmarked Escalade"
    synonym for thugmobile. Hell yeah I would presume guys jumping out of a Escalade are trying to jack me.

  • ||

    What the fuck. Even if the guy *had* paid the woman for sex, it doesn't justify letting the cops off the hook. It had nothing to do with drugs. What kind of grand jury was that? That they take the word of a crack cocaine addict? Idiots.

  • Dr Duquesne||

    Which is worse? The bad cops or the reprobates they are supposed to stop from doing bad things? The more stories I read on the subject, the more times I see bad cops doing bad, bad things to 'not bad' people.

    The supreme court has already said that a policeman's duty is 'NOT' to serve and protect the public, as they used to brag about. They only have to go after bad guys, and they get to determine who the bad guy is. Even in this case, it appears that the cops were in the business of making a bad guy out of Ayers 'after' they killed him. Who really is the bad guy anymore? I've not been successfully brainwashed into believing cops are the good guys. I have a mind of my own and I determine right and wrong for myself. Those cops were clearly not Georgia's finest. I know Georgia's finest and those cops don't measure up.

  • rrr||

    Yet those cops are the ones who decide the life and death of Rev. Ayers and then get to smear his reputation after his death, all to keep their jobs. If Ayers is guilty by association and therefore worthy of death then surely "Georgia's finest" are guilty by association and by the simple fact that they hired and now protect the killers.

  • Dr Duquesne||

    I agree with you. Perhaps I should elaborate. I did not mean to imply that "a" cop is automatically one of Georgia's finest. I had other, more worthy folk in mind to fill that position. (Finest denoting the best of all of Georgia's people!).

  • ||

    The sad, stupid reality is despite teh fact that our drug laws are failing they wont be repealed for a simple reason- doing so would destroy a politician's career. The scary thing is that they know this- you can't tell me that John McCain doesn't know first hand the weakness of our policy (though, I guess Cindy getting a free pass might make him think the problem isn't all that bad) or that Obama doesn't see the futility of the status quo (he worked the South Side of Chicago he has to know people destroyed by dumb busts)- yet neither of them came out in favor of anything more than a small change in policy (Obama's pushed to balance Powder-Crack sentencing disparities, and has slightly relaxed federal enforcement on Marijuana in states where its legal) because to do otherwise would have given their opponent the presidency (if they'd both announced it at once it would have worked). I think we're going to have to have a hard ass do it- like only Nixon could go to China.

  • Random Dude||

    It's articles like these.... and the frightening quantity of them.... that changed my mind on the drug war. This is a travesty.

    Keep it up Balko.

  • Leif||

    "Let’s say that you (which would include 99 percent of the people reading this) aren't a drug dealer, or a mobster, or some other sort of career criminal."

    Right. If you people weren't one of these types of low-life, why would you be reading this subversive material?

    /sarc

  • ||

    This should be about poorly trained, corrupt police. It does not matter if you associate with felons (seems appropirate for a pastor), it does not matter if you are having an affair, all of this does not warrant the police ambushing and shooting someone, because they saw a small amount of money exchange hands. Anyone under those circumstances would have been scared out of their mind and likely would have tried to get away. It is so sad that Georgia protect and seems to condone this type of behavior from its police force.

  • ||

    If associating with a criminal - knowingly or unwittingly - means it's open season on getting shot, then most of us are in trouble.

  • Gary||

    "... then most of us are in trouble."

    Particularly preachers and cops.

  • abercrombie london||

    good ideas

  • abercrombie london||

    thanks you

  • ||

    What ever happened to "Sir, may we have a word with you?"

  • Leif||

    Sir, have a word with my leetle friend.

  • ||

    Do these police watch too many episodes of COPS or what?!
    Unbelievable. Stupid. F*cktarded!!

  • ||

    How about "demented, hysterical" cops?

  • ||

    Shades of Jean Charles de Menezes. The problem with some police officers is that they think their number one function is to establish control of a situation by any means necessary. And that is before establishing who is who, a.k.a. who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Better to kill innocents than let a suspected petty criminal escape. Innocent until proven guilty? Not with these boys. Power corrupts...

  • ||

    "A person's mere propinquity to others independently suspected of criminal activity does not, without more, give rise to probable cause to search that person."

    Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 86 (1979)

  • ||

    Our most effective power as individuals may be serving as *thinking* Jurors and Grand Jurors.

    Though there are many problems in America that beg to be addressed, there appears to be one that-though it usually hovers under the radar-affects everyone directly and/or indirectly, and has the potential to either hasten the already advanced destruction of our Liberty...or to re-establish lost Liberty.

    The reason this issue remains in the shadows may be because it is an essential component of the foundation of civilized society, and those in power that are responsible for maintaining and conducting the process have overseen the thorough corruption of it, and naturally wish not to be exposed. For whatever reason the so-called news media are complicit in keeping a smokescreen in place so that the corruption remains largely unknown.

    And, the political blame falls upon Republicans and
    Democrats.

    This issue is America's judicial system, both civil and criminal. And, the corruption is endemic in the federal as well as state systems.

    Since it is the criminal justice systems that feeds the American Prison Industrial Complex, which makes the U.S. the world leader in imprisonment of people, both in raw numbers as well as per-capita rates (hardly something that Americans should be proud of), that is where the focus should be, as it is likely that the civil justice system would be cleaned up at the same time the criminal justice system is reformed.

    In order to obtain conviction rates near 100%, it has become routine: for prosecutors to cheat and disregard their duty to see that justice is done; for police to lie, plant evidence and circumvent proper procedure regarding the Bill Of Rights; for misbehaving judges to give rubber-stamp approval over the corrupt means used by police and prosecutors in the courtroom, as well as rendering judicial decisions not based upon law. It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. All too often the first casualty in courtrooms is the truth.

    That police, prosecutors, and judges can be said to generally work as a team-with the goal of convictions by any means-shouldn't be a surprise...gee whiz...they all receive their income from...the government.


    A Grand Jury that refuses to hand down an indictment stops a prosecution, but that is extremely rare, as the Grand Jury has largely become a rubber-stamp in the hands of the prosecutor. The notion that a prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted is not without basis...

    The Grand Jury was originally designed to operate independently, without being orchestrated by the government prosecutor. Indeed, government prosecutors were non-existent in America's early days (the prosecutor was the injured party). And when government prosecutors appeared they were forbidden to attend the Grand Jury, at least until late in the 19th century. Today, Grand Jurors see and/or hear ONLY what the government prosecutor wants presented to them.


    While the government must have 12 votes of guilty to secure a conviction at trial, a lone vote of not guilty hangs the jury. Then the government must initiate the process all over again.

    But actual trials are much more the exception than the rule regarding the means of dispensing 'justice' to criminal defendants, as plea bargaining has largely replaced the means of justice established by the Founding Fathers, as today more than 90% of criminal charges are resolved by plea bargains.

    In fact, plea bargains were unknown to the Founding Fathers and would have been considered an abomination by them. The practice of plea bargaining began early in the 20th century.

    Because a conviction is all but assured if one chooses to go to trial, even if one is totally innocent there is plenty of incentive to plead guilty in order to avoid the draconian prison sentences that one faces if he or she forces the prosecutor to actually have to work a trial.

    The means employed by prosecutors to encourage defendants to plead guilty can often be most charitably be described as torture, and include but are not limited to: prolonged incarceration prior to trial due to unreasonable bail demands; stacking extra criminal charges in order to execute a 'bargain' ; threats of more prison time upon conviction at trial; threats to indict and prosecute innocent family or friends if one is stubborn about exercising their right to a trial.

    It is argued that the justice system would grind to a halt without the expediency offered by plea bargains. But maybe there are too many laws, too many behaviors being legislated as crimes even though no person and/or property is harmed, except possibly the defendant and/or other consenting adults.

    Examples of 'crimes' that are absurd, silly and ridiculous, include: the importation of lobsters 1/2" too short and packaged in cardboard rather than plastic (a federal felony); failing to report a cash sale of gold; ingestion of some substances; filling in a low spot with dirt on one's own property...the list might be endless. And, we are already down the road to 'thought' crimes and there are already laws on the books and more pending that could easily make things such as Tea Party beliefs and activities into terrorism crimes.

    That we are well on the way to becoming a police state would seem to be beyond dispute.

    Individuals prepared to think and employ common sense when called to serve as Grand and Trial Jurors, rather than acting as government boot-licking rubber-stamps, could restore lost Liberty and reverse the march towards totalitarianism.

    It's hard to imagine another way...that is peaceful...

    Whether as Grand Juror or Trial Juror, one has the right and the duty to judge the facts as well as the law. Judges will instruct Jurors "you must obey the law as I give it to you"-THAT IS A LIE. Neither Constitutional provisions nor legislative enactment of any kind (at least at the federal level) so states. All "jury instructions" in criminal cases are merely helpful suggestions. See United States v. Norton, 846 F.2d 521 (8th Cir. 1988).

    There can be no better system of checks and balances than by the people serving as Jurors.

    As examples, Jurors judged the law in cases regarding the Fugitive Slave Act (which made it a crime to aid an escaped slave), and Alcohol Prohibition.

    Slavery is obviously wrong, as is the governmental intrusion into what an adult individual chooses put into his or her body, so those Jurors-including notable Ohio Jurors-refused to convict. Such honorable service as Jurors would likely have ended Slavery eventually (without a half-million Civil War dead), and did assist in eventually ending the disasterous policy of Alcohol Prohibition.

  • ||

    yea its a real crime for an unauthorized cop to even have a weapon..they need to put all three away for life. I dont do drugs but Im really sick of hearing about people being chased and killed for a little pot or small quantities of drugs. Its the gov. that scares people about a little dope..watch reefer madness it was made in the thirties..to scare people..legalize drugs and they will soon disapear...

  • Cathie||

    This story tells people just how out-of-control the police are. And as far as "policing themselves" is concerned it should have been done away with decades ago. Police think they're special and think they have their own set of laws to obey...ours don't apply to them. I have no idea what I would've done in that situation but deadly force WAS NOT needed in this case. The cops involved in this should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. They deserve it.

  • shocked and awed||

    This story is eerily reminiscent of a scene played out by marshalls in Louisville, Ky. They jumped out commando style to stop a "suspect" getting in his car with his girlfriend and an INFANT in a car seat, out of unmarked cars, not in uniform, and they are surprised when they immediately try to flee the scene. These "marshalls" fired into the vehicle stating the vehicle was used as a weapon by narrowly missing one of their men in their attempt to flee (they also thought they were being robbed). Fortunately the infant was safe, but this couple drove until they saw a MARKED POLICE CAR and surrendered to them, only then learning why these commandos had attacked their vehicle. WAKE UP POLICE. I'd like to think the cops had more sense. Obviously their training is inadequate in many areas.

  • ||

    Sadly it appears more an more that LEO's are a "job of last resort", just as teaching has been - poor training, and some of the lowest pay in the counrty. But, heavens, we wouldn't expect taxpayers to foot the bill to hire real talent now, would we???? Agencies can't attract enough recruits to even keep pace with the ones retiring, and then the "academy" is less than a year in duraction, and has absolutely no structure at all to eliminate the (est. more than half) ones who are there just because it's a "power trip". If anything in this country need "change" it's the entire LEO structure. *AND* it could easily be accomplished if "leadership" desires because it's already part of the Executive branch! But ya gotta admit there's a problem before you'll even entertain any possible changes!

  • ||

    "..legalize drugs and they will soon disapear..."
    ==============
    Uh - THAT doesn't compute either. People had a similar argument for ending prohibition, and look at the number of people killed by drunk drivers every year now. Take a look at where the real danger is - that things consumed which make one careless and less responsible to treat other folks with care and respect are truly cutting into those folks freedom! So, is it OK to grant one person freedom to be irresponsible at the expense of another's freedom? How does one judge, and who does the judging?
    So, lump drugs into the same class as alcohol - they both can have various effects on personal health, but more significantly they both can cause a person to become careless and irresponsible.
    In a nearby college town the TV stations are always running ads that "Buzzed driving is drunk driving". I fully agree with this, but I DO wonder why the same ads are NEVER run in the "big city" where so much more of the problem exists....
    Maybe offenses related to both "substances" should be revised to carry much heavier penalties? Can't say I ever saw or heard of commando type raids or stops for alcohol abuse, however.

  • ||

    "Our most effective power as individuals may be serving as *thinking* Jurors and Grand Jurors."
    ==================
    I don't disagree, but I also submit that some judges "instructions to the jury" have become very questionable, and do not encourage thought as much as feeling (emotion). I had a personal encounter of just that nature one time when I was enpaneled - the judge instructed us in no uncertain terms that our duty was to decide how we felt about the law, and what it meant in the specific circumstances... When the judge is in favor of situational ethics, I believe the court is beyond hope!

  • ||

    If those were the instructions given by the judge, then he/she appears to have properly told the jurors to "judge the law as well as the facts".

    As it should be.

    Every case is different and the particular circumstances should determine if the law is applicaple.

    The judge's use of the word "feel" probably meant to *think*.

  • ||

    The problem is that people actually foolishly believe that problems can be solved, i.e., be made to go away completely. We will never "solve" the drug problem. No matter how you change society, what kind of prohibition, regulation, or therapy you provide, some people will always use drugs, and some of them will carry that use to the extreme of abuse. Once we accept that truth, we can stop trying to force a bad policy and rationally develop an optimal one that creates the least social disruption.

    Prohibition does not work, at all, and creates far more problems than it would ever solve, even if it could stop drug abuse. We've had a "war on drugs" since the early '70s, when Nixon declared it. Since then we've militarized the police to an unconstitutional level, we've severely rolled back constitutional rights to make their job easier, we've even used the military and CIA to fight the war in supply and transshipment countries. And what's the result? Anyone can buy higher quality drugs today than ever before in our history, at lower prices and more conveniently than you can get groceries. Anyone who understands the basics of supply and demand knows that this result means that the "war" is an absolute failure and is already lost.

    Legalizing drugs won't make drug addiction go away, but it makes it far more manageable, without building vast criminal cartels and narco-terrorist states, without requiring the rest of society sacrifice our safety and constitutional rights, and without building a police state.

  • ||

    Did Barret get a "Free Get Out of Jail" card for her testimony?

  • ||

    I have never used drugs and I know that drug laws accomplish many things but almost all of them are unacceptable. They make drug trafficking and selling profitable, they give us the largest per capita prison population and prison costs in the world, they are used to justify massive overspending on law enforcement, they guarantee the funding of drug gangs and they result in local killings for territory and random killings by accident or mistake. The only solution is to remove the profits and control the availability of drugs. Only one new law would be required to protect the public from future abuse. That law would require a mandatory 30 year prison sentence for anyone who provides drugs to minors or operates a vehicle or dangerous equipment while under the influence of drugs. All the previously mentioned problems, costs and fatalities would stop immediately. I have no objection to someone who wants to destroy their brain with drugs of any type or description. No more objection than if they wanted to participate in any other high risk adventure. What we need to stop is the completely harmful effects of the current approach to drugs. Make drugs unprofitable and “un-cool” and all the problems go away. It is time to do it.

  • ||

    You make good points. The drug problem is glorified by celebs in and out of re-hab,and/or jail too. The news rags wait for their failure and make them headlines.

  • ||

    Why would anyone beleive Barret? As soon as I read her so called story bells and whistles went off and red flags popped up everywhere. Wonder which cop gave her that story to tell. Something's fishy.

  • ||

    If you are against legalization, you are part of the problem, and have blood on your hands, just like the users. And you don't even have the totally lame "I am addicted" excuse to justify your anti-social behavior.

  • ||

    Voice from the audience -- "How do you think this legalization should be done?"

    Well, I been waiting 30 years to hear that question, so thanks for asking!

    Here's one way I really like --
    1) ALL "chemicals of concern" are available by prescription, but ONLY by prescription.
    2) Anyone who tests positive, but has no script, is in violation and goes straight to detox, which involves sitting in a cell until you are clean. THEN you get to go before a judge...
    3) Once a specialist has certified that an applicant a) is knowledgeable as to the nature of his chosen chemical, b) is of age and legal standing, and c) not a member of a "clean-only" profession (e.g., airline pilot), then a script and a "credit card" are issued. Restrictions appropriate to the chemical are issued (think driving privilege, being pregnant, etc).
    4) When the script is filled, all relevant info is entered into the DL/ID card database.
    5) Anyone in violation goes to detox, then a judge.

    I think you will find that even indigent addicts are model citizens and cheap to care for. Imagine being a oxy addict and having your pharmacist "suggest" that there are job openings available at (fill-in-the-blank).

    Heh. I am thinking you will show up on time...

    Note --NO AMNESTY need be granted to those who are engaged in illegal distribution, or have engaged in drug-related crime in the past. I also note that drug-rings taken down won't be immediately replaced with new players, yet cops will not be unemployed in at least the medium term.

  • ||

    Bravo!

  • ||

    Not sure why the fact this man was a baptist minister is important.

  • Dave||

    How horrible does the situation in our country have to get before we finally find out why people take drugs to escape "everyday" life in the first place ( oh wait, is it because things exactly like this story happen - naahhh); and while we are doing that; how about taking "drugs" out of the realm of "crime" and work on the causes of emotional pain that move people to want to escape life. . . . or do we all just secretly really like living in a violent full length movie with all the 100 mph freeway chases, explosions and violent death?

  • ||

    we need tougher punishment for drug dealers and users. first time conviction 20 years second automatic death. users should get one 5 year sentence first time, 10 yrs second death 3rd time conviction for use. illgel using or selling immediate death. the cops here should build time for this murder

  • ||

    Ronnie......you are heartless to say the least....and you're liveing in the wrong country.....try the middle east countries, they feel like you do.

  • orion||

    if the whole world thought like you, we would have almost a million executions a year. I'd say 50% of the 16-21 years old. Legalize it and make the buying age 21 kids will have a harder time buying it. Especially since new ID's are almost impossible to fake and most places swipe ID's to show fakes. 95% of American high schoolers say its easier to buy pot than booze.

  • Mike M||

    To those criticizing ALL law enforcement officers as 'incompetent' and out 'trampling on everyone's constitutional rights': I would love to see the way you would react if you REASONABLY BELIEVED your life was in IMMINENT danger. 98% of you would simply stand there and piss/shit yourself. The other 2% of you would scream in terror whilst pissing yourself and might try to do something about it. Most law enforcement officers are out there, putting their lives on the line so that you can sit there pontificating to each other in the quiet, anonymous comfort of your home or cubicle. I am so thankful my freedom does not depend on the worthlessness of your words but on the actions of the law enforcement officers and military that serve us twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Their actions are not perfect, but at least they are actions in good faith for the public's (read sheep's) overall safety.

  • ||

    to control drug dealers and stop you have to create a society which does not use drugs(make usage so extremely punishable they will stop) and yuo have to protect yuor borders from drug dealers.death is the only answer for them

  • ||

    In my small village we have no, I repeat no drug problems. We also have no police. None. What we have is a pink slip fund that places the bad apple on a plane out of town. We have children here so we have a no drug policy. We have never had meth labs. When someone shows up trying to do that in this village, they are sometimes not so politely, asked to leave. No one gets hurt though. Pot is not included on our drug list. But giving pot to minors is a crime punishable by eviction. This is not vigilanteism.......

  • ||

    Please do not call this a war on drugs. This "war" has been going on fo more than 50 years with no end in sight. The only winners so far have been corruption, gang growth, the growth the police budget, the drug lords, the erosion of our rights in favor of the police state, the prison population, and an exponential increase in addicts. You cannot omit the innocent victims of the drug related violence.

  • ||

    Is this the America that we want? An America in which police officers in gangster clothes jump out of SUVs to confront non-violent citizens going about their business, and gun them down when they understandably try to get away? I'm supportive of law enforcement; they have a hard job and they generally do it very well, but this so-called "war on drugs" has brought out the worst in everybody. It's time to get rid of the Nazi-style raids and commando tactics, and return to being keepers of the PEACE. Let's let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, mayber $100 permit for a dozen plants, and we'll put the drug cartels out of business and make our streets safer for all of us.

  • The Mossy Spaniard||

    At an earlier comment by John:
    The fact Ayers was a Baptist minister will figure prominently in local public opinion. As a lifelong Bible belt denizen, I see a lot of people erroneously supporting existing drug laws out of a desire for the preservation of morality. I don't know that most of those people are even marginally aware of the extent of the collateral damage involved, but it could take something as shattering as the murder of a diligent man of God by a dubious police force to really drive the point home. I've shared this story with a diverse selection of people, and even the most values-oriented and socially conservative of them were beyond outraged. If it were someone from a different walk of life, I'm not sure it would register with near as much indignation.

  • abercrombie uk||

    Even if you go on his website, it's still just a a ten minute discussion. The interview with Jim Cramer simply amounted to Jim sputtering something every couple of minutes while John wagged his finger at him the whole time. I've never seen him have an intelligent discussion with anybody, and he only talks to people that he knows he can bully into a corner. Usually idiots, yes, but it's still dispicable. I don't watch him that often, but it is people like him that make me wretch. The fact that people go around saying "He slammed so and so" in that "debate" pisses me off. John's not directly responsible for that, but he certainly plays his audience to get that effect.

  • abercrombie fitch uk||

    Well said. Tucker is despicable, Crossfire became despicable (despite the presence of supposed "heavyweights" like Novack and Carville), and Jon Stewart is a comedian who has never proclaimed himself to be anything else. Just because certain people here don't understand how satire works doesn't change that fact. The fact that The Daily Show has gained some cultural traction doesn't change that.

  • abercrombie and fitch uk||

    "The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one."

  • ||

    On my way home from my church's dance practice only a month before jonathon was killed i picked up Kayla (my first cousin) walking down the street where Ayers also picked her up the day he was killed. Me and Kayla grew up together really closely and started drifting apart after I got married in 99. Kayla was such a smart girl who had a future ahead of her but drugs took over her life so much that i didnt even recognize her the day i seen her walking and stopped to offer her a ride. She got in my car and told me how she didnt have money to pay for her room at the motel. i told her i didnt have it to give to her but she could go home with me and stay. She looked down at my Bible between the seats and said"youve really changed havent you?"...I told her that I had and that she could too..She told me "that it felt like she had a chain tied around her neck and that she was drowning"...I knew at that moment she was hungry for a change. When i heard of Jonathons death i knew immediately that it was Kayla that was in the car. A week later it was confirmed...A couple months after Jonathons death i seen her walking up the same sidewalk again. She was hesitant to talk to me but told me she was getting put in prison that January....In my heart of heart i know that I know without a shadow of a doubt Jonathon was ministering to Kayla..God spoke to me that day to pick her up without even realizing who she was..I believe Jonathon seen that same hunger in her eyes, that same brokenness...I have faith in God that his murder will not be in vain. I believe that the very woman who's life his was taken for WILL BE SAVED...His life was cut short but Jonathon was doing the work of the Lord. I never had the honor to meet him but by the spirit i know him. I havent spoken to anyone else about this except my family that encouraged me to stay away from Kayla. i love her and I know somewhere deep down beneath the crude of this world is a beautiful soul that God is gonna make whole one day soon...

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