On Wednesday night a New Orleans police officer shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old man, Wendell Allen, during a pot raid. Police, who had a search warrant, say they recovered about five ounces of marijuana, bags, digital scales, and a handgun from the house. They arrested two men for possession with intent to distribute. Allen, a former high school basketball star who was given a five-year suspended sentence for that offense last year, escaped charges this time around, what with being dead and all. The New Orleans Police Department is investigating why Officer Josh Colclough shot Allen, whose mother told a local TV station:
His police title, that's just a title. He's still a man just like the next man that commits a murder. So my child's crime should be treated the same if he'd gotten killed by a regular man.
Should be, but certainly won't. A regular man who breaks into a house and kills someone, even accidentally, would be guilty of murder. But the drug laws authorize police officers to do things that otherwise would be considered burglary and armed robbery. In this case, the cops charged into the house with guns drawn, knowingly endangering everyone inside:
"All the children said that when they came in and they heard the boom, they put guns in the children's faces and asked them to back up. They proceeded upstairs and all they heard was a pow and Wendell screaming," said [Crystal] Butler [Wendell Allen's aunt]. NOPD confirms that 5 children were inside the Gentilly home when the search warrant was executed ranging from ages 1 to 14.
"We have not been able to yet completely understand what exactly occurred,” Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said yesterday. No matter why Colclough fired his gun, the crucial error occurred long before he ran up the stairs, when legislators decided this was an appropriate way to deal with a plant they did not like.