War on Drugs

Police Union Intimidating Derrick Foster's Supporters


Derrick Foster is the man who recently shot and wounded two Columbus, Ohio police officers conducting a drug raid on a house where Foster was shooting dice. There were no drug charges as a result of the raid. In fact, the only charges to come out of the raid are those against Foster and another man, both of whom say they mistook the raiding officers for armed robbers. Foster is a code inspector for the city of Columbus, Ohio who received glowing reviews from his supervisors, a former Ohio State football player, and a father of two. He had no prior criminal record.

As Foster's initial court appearance, his attorney introduced several letters attesting to his character from Ohio State athletes, local businessmen, and local educators. Many called him a role model.

That apparently has disrupted the police narrative that Foster is a dangerous cop-killer.

The Fraternal Order of Police passed on many of the supporters' letters to its 4,100 members and encouraged them to express their displeasure or boycott their businesses.

"I still believe he's a threat to society. The minute you put your thoughts on a letterhead, you open yourself and your business up to criticism," said Jim Gilbert, president of Capital City Lodge No. 9.

"We're asking our officers and the public to stand up between the citizens and the violence they put against our officers."

Weiner said the union is off base. "This is witness intimidation. I might be calling some of these people as character witnesses for the defense," he said recently.

The first two union targets were Michael McGuire, the owner of a Budget car-rental location and a lifelong friend of Foster's; and Pickerington Central High School Principal Scott Reeves, who met Foster at OSU in the mid-1980s. McGuire said he felt threatened when one officer called him and the union sent him an e-mail after he wrote that Foster "is a tremendous role model to his children and other teens in the community."

Wonder how the union feels about the violence Columbus police use against nonviolent citizens in these raids?

The high school principal was reprimanded by his boss, the school superintendent. The police union says it also plans to send a cadre of officers to the school's next school board meeting, again to register their displeasure for the principal's support of Foster. The superintendent may have a point in that the principal shouldn't have used official letterhead in his note of support for Foster. But then, I wonder how many of these police officers have acted in their official capacity in their efforts to intimidate Foster's supporters. I'd presume the answer is "all," given that if they hadn't, the recipients of their emails and phone calls wouldn't have known they were cops. How many will show up at the school board meeting in uniform?

So in sum: The Columbus police waged a hasty drug raid (the third that night for the same SWAT team) on a house where no significant amount of drugs were found. In the process, a man with no prior criminal record and who worked for the city understandably mistook them for armed robbers, and fired his legally-registered gun in self-defense. The authorities are now charging that man with attempted murder, and any of his friends or acquaintances who dare vouch for his character and judgment (both of which are pretty important to establishing his guilt or innocence) can expect intimidating phone calls, emails, and visits from the police, as well as police efforts to interfere with their careers and livelihood.

Foster's attorney is right. This is blatant witness intimidation. Ohio's attorney general needs to rein the police union in.

We continue to get these cases where someone with no prior criminal record fires on a team of raiding police officers. And every time, we're supposed to believe that said person knew the armed men breaking in were cops, and that for whatever reason, each time this person who had shown no prior indication of criminality suddenly turned into a deranged cop killer.

Hardly seems likely, does it? Isn't the more rational explanation here that these raids are dangerously volatile, confusing, and violent, and put the people on the receiving end of them in understandable fear for their lives?