War on Drugs

Basil Parasiris Acquitted


Parasiris is a Quebec man who shot and killed a police officer during a botched drug raid on his home. Parasiris' wife was shot in the arm, and his two children witnessed the exchange of gunfire. Last week, a Canadian jury acquitted Parasiris of murder charges. The Montreal Gazaette editorializes:

Laval police conducted the raid in the belief that Parasiris was involved in a local drug ring. Unfortunately, as Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer ruled, there was little proof to back this belief, certainly not enough for a search warrant to be executed in a surprise, pre-dawn raid. Such a raid should be carried out only in an emergency.

Parasiris was wakened by his wife screaming shortly after 5 a.m. on March 2, 2007. Seeing a shadow at the doorway to his bedroom, Parasiris picked up one of four loaded guns he kept in his bedroom and fired off at least two shots. He said he believed his home had been invaded.

In a way, it had been. Nine police officers forced Parasiris's front door open with a battering ram. Five officers sprinted up the stairs to the bedrooms. Within less than a minute, Tessier lay dying, Parasiris's wife was shot through the arm, a second police officer was hit by a bullet from Parasiris's gun and Parasiris's two children were traumatized.

Both sides seem to have panicked. It was an inevitable reaction on the part of the Parasiris family. But for the police to have fired off so many rounds suggests a lack of training in general and of planning for this raid in particular.

A search warrant for "dynamic entry" should not, on the evidence, have been issued in this case. Police could have arrested Parasiris under calmer circumstances.

A man is dead as a result of an apparently ill-planned raid. Only vigorous corrective action by the authorities can add anything positive to this tragic series of mistakes.

It's nice to see a sensible outcome to one of theses cases, even if it had to come from Canada.